HYDRO-ELECTRIC stations are to be constructed at water reservoirs in Kerry in an effort to reduce the council’s electricity bill.
The ESB bill for Kerry County Council last year amounted to more than €3.2 million, according to a report yesterday.
Most of the electricity cost, some 74 per cent of it amounting to €2.39 million, went on the operation of the county’s water and wastewater pumping and treatment plants, while €500,000 was spent on lighting small towns and villages. In 2001, the council installed a small hydro turbine at Lough Guitane, the lake which supplies half of the county’s water. This has generated more than €700,000 worth of electricity powering a nearby water-treatment plant.
The Lough Guitane plant will run for 50 years and continue to provide security of energy supply and reduced costs to the council, the report outlined.
The council is now examining hydro-electric generation at two other reservoirs and abstraction plants, John O’Connor, the council’s director of finance, told John Brassil, the councillor who requested the information.
Mr O’Connor said all investment programmes, including roads and housing, will be affected by cuts this year as a result of the economic difficulties experienced by the Government.
Some €55 out of every €100 the council received came from the exchequer. “If the exchequer is in difficulty, we are in serious difficulty as well,” he warned councillors. “All our works and investment programmes must be regularly reviewed and adjusted to meet the changed financial circumstances both nationally and locally.”
Very little discretion is being left to local authorities to manage their affairs this year as a result of the obligation on them to seek ministerial sanction for all borrowings, Mr O’Connor added.
He urged businesses to talk to the council and agree on a plan.