ESRI Report highlights the urgency for EirGrid to underground the North-South Interconnector

October 20, 2014

NEPPC calls on Government  to force EirGrid to progress with an underground solution.

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 NEPPC is the overall representative group for some 45,000 people of the North East who advocate that high power electric cables should go underground. The group was formed in November 2007, in response to the massive public outcry emanating from the EirGrid announcement of its plans for a North-South interconnector from Meath to Tyrone. The strong consensus is that the interconnector should be established using underground cables instead of overhead transmission power lines.

On Friday an ESRI Report by John Fitzgerald highlighted the urgency for the North-South Interconnector Project (NSIP) to be completed as quickly as possible for cost and security of supply reasons.

NEPPC wishes to make the following comments in relation to the above:

 

  1. It should be pointed out that ALL delays in the NSIP to date are of EirGrid’s own making. The original application was made in 2009, but was withdrawn by the company in 2010 due to its woefully inadequate quality. The application and oral hearing came at huge expense to the taxpayer and specifically to the local community groups involved. EirGrid took no responsibility for its actions and the Government did not hold the company accountable for the withdrawal and consequent delay costs of €30M-€70Million per year.

 

  1. The perceived huge urgency for the NSIP is questionable at best. For the ROI section a substation has been taken out from the original application because of lack of demand for at least a decade. The demand is more pressing for the NI section. But the Minister responsible for energy policy, Arlene Foster, has outlined plans in progress to ensure short to medium term security – four bids have been received by SONI (the transmission operator) for supply of extra generating capacity; plans are in place by the owners of the Moyle interconnector, which is currently only operating at half capacity, to refurbish it with a new undersea cable by 2017 and proposals have been made by the owners of the existing Ballylumford station to install new technology electricity storage units to supplement electricity supply. The claim of urgency should not be used as a tactic or an excuse to try and force through an overhead lines NSIP without due process, which includes a proper examination of the alternative of undergrounding.

 

  1. EirGrid and the Government continue to make contradictory arguments concerning the urgency and the cost of the NSIP. If the interconnector is as urgent as they claim then they should proceed with undergrounding, which does not require planning application approval and which will be accepted by landowners and communities alike. If the main argument against undergrounding is cost (which is heavily disputed by NEPPC) then why are they not factoring in their own stated delay costs to date of €180-€420Million, which easily bridges their own claimed cost estimates for undergrounding?

 

  1. One of the key arguments around the need for the NSIP relates to the accommodation of increases in renewable electricity. This according to EirGrid makes the grid more fragile and less stable. In such circumstances, from a security of supply perspective, use of VSC-HVDC underground cables is believed to improve overall system performance and offers a superior solution to AC overhead lines.

 

A secure energy supply means sensible choices have to be made.  Undergrounding makes sense.

There is a significant weakness in the approach by EirGrid of focusing solely on technical and engineering aspects of grid performance and development. It refuses to include the environmental and socio-economic aspects and consequences of each of the Grid 25 projects. This leads to incomplete and inadequate analyses of the overall effects of grid development on local populations and indeed the wider public. It is the Government’s role to demand that EirGrid examine the NSIP impact in its totality and hence give undergrounding priority for implementation.

North East Pylon Pressure Campaign Limited

087- 680 36 66         pjboreilly@eircom.net

 

Filed under: Press Releases 2014


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NEPP is the overall representative group for the people of Ireland's North East who advocate that high power electric cables should go underground.

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