Monday, 18 April 2011

Eirgrid says transfer of grid could save €40m a year

ELECTRICITY USERS could save an average of €40 million a year if ownership of the Republic’s national were transferred to Eirgrid, the company said yesterday.

The Government is committed to transferring ownership of the grid, which transmits electricity from power plants to the distribution network, from the ESB to Eirgrid, the State company which already manages it.

Yesterday, Eirgrid chairwoman Bernie Gray said experience in other countries that have taken similar steps has shown such a move generates big savings.

She estimated savings gained from the transfer would be €600 million over 15 years, an average of €40 million a year. These savings would ultimately be passed on to the businesses and households that use electricity.

The company said it had cut 20 per cent from the final estimated cost of planned reinvestment in the national grid.

Eirgrid plans to renew existing parts of the grid and add new elements to the network. Among other things this will prepare it to take increasing amounts of electricity generated by renewable methods such as wind power.

The original estimate of the cost of doing this was €4 billion. Chief executive Dermot Byrne said yesterday that the company now believed it could reduce that by €800 million to €3.2 billion.

He said the savings would be achieved through new technology, optimising existing resources and partly as a result of the recession.

The company plans to resubmit its application for planning for a new interconnection, running from Meath to Tyrone, in the second half of the year.

The discovery of a mistake in the original application last year halted a hearing into the proposal held by Bord Pleanála. Local people want the cables to be underground rather than on pylons.

Eirgrid manages the electricity grids North and South, and runs the single market for electricity through a subsidiary. Last year it made profits of €13.86 million on the back of a €443.7 million turnover.

The company is due to meet Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte today to discuss his plans for the wider sector.

Irish Times

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