ESB versus EirGrid – again

moneypoint

In an earlier blog I suggested that the interests of the ESB and EirGrid were on a collision course, particularly as the ESB want to continue running their cash-cow Moneypoint for as long as possible, whereas the Grid25 Project aims to ultimately shut Moneypoint down.

The plot thickens as the ESB has questioned the necessity of Eirgrid’s multi-billion 400kV building programme in its submission in response to the Government’s Green Paper on Energy Policy. The comprehensive report from the State-owned energy provider places further serious doubt around the Grid25 programme.

In a carefully worded swipe at EirGrid, the ESB questions the necessity of the Grid25 project. For example:

“Existing energy market designs only partially address Security of Supply and therefore fuel diversity is an issue for national energy policy.
To date coal-based generation at Moneypoint has performed a key role in addressing this fuel diversity. The station has been fitted with the most modern environmental equipment and conforms with all environmental regulations providing significant option value to Irish consumers
Longer term, alternative approaches to energy market design should be considered that more properly address security of supply.”

 

The full ESB submission can be read here:

http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/125E3827-A53C-4A30-ABFD-0F1F9FF63B95/0/ESB.pdf

 

This hostility from ESB might have serious practical and political implications for EirGrid. It might also have significant legal implications. If the ESB is reluctant to hand over operational control of any of the new as yet uncompleted networks, it means that EirGrid effectively has no statutory functions or powers in relation to those unfinished projects.

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Which explains the “Keep Out EirGrid” signs along the proposed GridLink route. Whilst it has never had the right of statutory wayleave or compulsory purchase, the 2000 Regulations did confer on EirGrid the right to inspect the transmission network. However, until the GridLink system is up and running and operationally handed over to EirGrid, EirGrid cannot perform its statutory functions, and accordingly is not entitled to exercise the extended powers granted by the 2000 Regulations.

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If the current government, and indeed any future government, attempt to expedite the Grid25 project by further increasing the functions and powers of EirGrid whilst simultaneously stripping ESB of its current functions and powers, they will face a double backlash. Firstly they will face the wrath of the ESB, which has the power and influence to literally shut this country down. Secondly, they will face the wrath of the Irish electorate, firstly from those loyal to the ESB and its established history in this country, and secondly from those voters directly opposed to the environmental blight that is Grid25.

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Any politician would need to consider these factors very carefully given the pending general elections.

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from practice in 2002 to take up a full-time lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). He is an accredited and practising mediator and is busy writing a book, with Dr Sinead Conneely, on Mediation in Ireland. His current interest is Ireland’s energy policy and its impact on the people and the environment. He is also researching the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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