THERE are plans to develop the windfarm at Lisheen under a E500m investment in energy capacity in North Tipperary, county councillors were told at their May meeting.
During a presentation to the council by Eirgrid’s John Lowry, he revealed that Lisheen has capacity to produce 37mw of power at present, but that there are plans for further development.
Mr Lowry was speaking to councillors about the company’s plans for a E3.2bn investment in electricity capacity nationally, of which E500m will be spent covering North Tipperary and as far down as Wexford and Cork.
Eirgrid manages the cables and network transmission part of the ESB, and Mr Lowry was responding to a question from Cllr John Hogan on whether or not there will be capacity to cater for any new businessses at the Lisheen mine site.
“Lisheen is an excellent site. There is talk of a new sugar beet factory going in there. We need to know if there will be enough capacity,” he said.
Mayor Micheal Lowry, who said that there was a need to know whether Lisheen would be able to cope with new industries, maintained that it was a “strategic site”.
However, Cllr Seamus Hanafin said he was unaware of any company that did not come to North Tipperary because of a lack of electricity.
Earlier, John Lowry Eirgrid told the council that Lisheen was helping Ireland meet its target of 40 per cent of its energy needs coming from renewable sources by 2020.
He also told them that the Eirgrid investment was “vital to industry” in North Tipperary as it will create opportunties for development and jobs.
Mr Lowry said that while the company’s planned investment was over an eight to 10-year period, they needed to make councils and councillors aware of the project in anticipation of any objections.
“The public will have issues such as pylons, health and safety and whether or nor cables should be over ground or underground, and they will come to you,” he warned.
He expected that the plans would be available to the public in 2013, and told Cllr John Kennedy that the ESB had not visited any potential sites yet in North Tipperary. “It will be the end of the year before we identify any potential corridors, and will go to the public in 2013.”
Eirgrid has arranged open days so the public can view the plans, but Cllr Hanafin pointed out that none is scheduled for North Tipperary, especially Thurles because of its proximity to Lisheen. Mr Lowry told Cllr Hanafin that they would take that on board.
Cllr John Hogan maintained that there were “prohibitive costs” for alternative energy suppliers to link with the national grid.
Mr Lowry agreed, saying: “It doesn’t come cheap to connect.”
And he told Cllr Seamus Morris that the compamy was now at the third phase of issuing invitations to private suppliers to join the national grid and they were awaiting responses.