Eirgrid abandons new pylons plan between Cork and Kildare

Semi-State company attributes decision to reduced demand for power

Eirgrid, the semi-State company with responsibility for the national electrity grid, said reduced demand for power means it no longer needs to build a new overhead network or install underground cables between Cork and Kildare. File photograph: Arben Celi/Reuters

Eirgrid, the semi-State company with responsibility for the national electrity grid, said reduced demand for power means it no longer needs to build a new overhead network or install underground cables between Cork and Kildare. File photograph: Arben Celi/Reuters

 

Eirgrid has abandoned plans to build a €215 million network of pylons from Cork to Kildare to boost electricity supplies across the State.

The semi-State company with responsibility for the national electricity grid said reduced demand for power means it no longer needs to build a new overhead network or install underground cables, which would have cost more than €643 million.

Instead, it plans to boost its existing network by retrofitting pylons and electricity substations with a technology known as “series compensation” which allows more power to flow through the lines, and will cost less than €157 million.

The pylons proposal was developed in 2008 at a time of “Celtic Tiger demands for power” which were no longer there, Eirgrid chief executive Fintan Slye said.

The new solution, which the company is calling the “regional option”, will cater for projected economic growth until at least 2030, Mr Slye said, after which time “we might need to look at something again”.

He said Eirgrid was unlikely to return to the overhead Grid Link plan. “We don’t see ourselves coming back to dust off Grid Link.”

The decision to scrap the hugely unpopular 220km pylon project follows the recommendation on Thursday of an expert panel set up in January 2014 by then minister for energy and natural resources Pat Rabbitte.

The panel assessed the three options for the grid development project - overhead lines with pylons, underground cables, and the regional option.

This option proposes boosting the existing grid infrastructure from Moneypoint to the greater Dublin area and running an underwater cable across the Shannon estuary.

Some upgrade works to existing transmission lines will also be required.

The regional option will take three to four years to complete, while the overhead option would have taken six to seven years and underground cables four to five years.