Fine Gael TD for Kildare South, Martin Heydon, has today (Thursday), questioned Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White on the continuing need for the Gridlink project. Deputy Heydon was speaking in the Dail this evening where he raised the implications of an ESB submission on national energy policy, calling into question the need for the Gridlink project.

Deputy Heydon highlighted that “ESB’s recent submission on national energy policy states that the latest demand projections by Eirgrid would only suggest an approximate 5% increase in demand for 2008 – 2024. This is compared to a forecasted increase in demand of 45% for the same period when the Gridlink project was first envisaged in 2008. These figures call into question the very need for the Gridlink project.

“Eirgrids Grid 25 programme is a massive investment for this Country estimated to cost almost €4bn up to 2025. ESB have confirmed that the capital cost of the infrastructure built in any year will be recovered from electricity bills for up to 50 years. We have to be absolutely sure that the projects are required before they go ahead.

“In his response Minister Alex White stated that the ESB submission would be considered with all other submissions as part of formulating the updated national energy policy. He also confirmed that in May of this year, Eirgrid initiated a further update of Grid 25 to take into account the most up to date information available, including technical innovation, future economic and demand projections. Following discussions with his Department, this update also includes an independent review to verify the strategies of Grid 25 on the basis of changing circumstances since 2008.

Deputy Heydon also highlighted ESB’s views regarding the provision of wind farms in Ireland with the Minister. “We currently have 182 wind farms in the Republic which generate over 2,200 MW. A further 180 wind farms are in either planning or development phases. In ESB’s report they estimate that Ireland needs just over 1,000 MW more to meet demand. This calls into the question the need for all the wind farms currently being planned. The ESB position is in contrast to the Wind Energy Industry which wants to double energy generated by wind.

Deputy Heydon looked for an assurance from the Minister that ESBs views on Wind Energy would form a part of the Departments final energy policy.

“I welcome the confirmations received from the Minister this evening and I expect that the ESB submission will have a significant impact on our future Energy Policy.