Grid West electricity may sell to Britain, says Kenny


ELECTRICITY GENERATED by wind, wave or tidal energy in the west of Ireland may well be lighting up British homes in the future, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday.

Confidence about developing an export market for electricity was expressed by Mr Kenny when he spoke at the official launch of the Grid West Project at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Castlebar.

Some €240 million is to be spent by Eirgrid on the Grid West project to develop and upgrade the electricity transmission network in the west between now and 2025.

Mr Kenny said at yesterday’s launch that the project would transform the west from being “a Cinderella place” by making the region more attractive for inward investors, particularly those requiring a secure supply of energy.

Mr Kenny said 400KV lines were necessary to allow the west and northwest not only to feed energy in but to feed it out as well.

“As you know, Britain is looking at our potential,” he said.

In the long term, the project will involve two high-capacity power lines from Bellacorick, Co Mayo, to both Cashla, east of Galway city, and Flagford, Co Roscommon.

Yesterday’s launch was also addressed by Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte. He said the market for energy in Ireland was limited at the moment but the UK represented huge potential for us to export electricity.

The British and Irish governments have begun talking about the possibility of Britain taking some of the electricity generated here.

“We are in discussions with the British government. It hasn’t happened in this fashion between two member states of the European Union before. A prerequisite is an intergovernmental agreement and we are working on the elements of that.”

Grid West project manager Alan McHugh promised a maximum of consultation on the project. It is hoped to have a planning application with An Bord Pleanála by 2015, with construction completed by 2019.

Some 200 people will be employed in the planning stages, with 300 involved in the construction end of the process.

However, Mr McHugh stated, those job numbers “paled in comparison to the number of jobs that would be created by inward investment to the region” which would be stimulated.

Eirgrid has promised “a high level of engagement” with communities which will be affected by the power lines. The company says no decision on the routes of the new networks has yet been taken.