The public acknowledgement by ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty that Moneypoint power station “faces a real risk of closure” has sparked renewed calls for the utility to come clean and outline its plans for the plant going forward.
The 915-megawatt coal-fire station, once the top supplier to the country’s electricity demands, faces new challenges ahead of the Climate Action Plan’s goal of ending coal burning at the Killimer plant, built nearly 40 years ago for €900million, by 2025.
Mr O’Doherty further fanned local concerns for the jobs that remain at the plant when he ruled out the conversion of Moneypoint to gas and described the station as a winter plant used only when electricity demand peaks.
Kilrush Independent councillor Ian Lynch has called on the ESB to end the scaremongering and provide clarity on the future use of Moneypoint post 2025. He added that there was also need for a new government to be formed and a viable plan put in place to keep the plant open.
“I suppose I wouldn’t be inclined to panic too much. We have been hearing this for quite some time, that Moneypoint may close altogether.. There has been a lot of talk about the possibilities of changing the way the facility operates., trying a new low carbon role.
“The reality is that these stations don’t close completely. When we look at Tarbert. A number of years ago it was to be decommissioned and it is still operating albeit at a reduced capacity. These stations when they do shut down they don’t cease up altogether,” he suggested.
Councillor Lynch is convinced that the ESB would like to keep Moneypoint as a back up “so it has to be maintained”.
“I’d be hopeful that talking about closure is not factually true. There’s going to be reduced capacity there. We can see the demand on coal burning isn’t there. But while the infrastructure is there the ESB will want to keep it open. Some jobs will be maintained to ensure the plant is viable to operate when required,” he maintained.
Councillor Lynch said that what is really disappointing is that for 10 years they have been pleading for the government to intervene and make sure there is a strategy around Moneypoint but to no avail.
“What’s even more disappointing is that in the last few months I have people contacting me regarding alternative use of the jetty and we are still being refused the options to look at the possibility of other industries using the jetty there.
“We need to work collectively. The government needs to intervene to make sure that the facility that is there, the deep water port and the connectivity to the grid, are used in the best possible way not alone for the local economy but for the state. I think that can be achieved if we open it up to other industries,” he argued.
Councillor Lynch said the emphasis on the formation of a new government is crucial now.
“Without a current government there’s going to be no action taken on this. The government needs to act and react very quickly and make sure they come up with a viable plan. They need to sit down with the ESB.
“There’s a lot of talk behind closed doors. We’ve tried to engage them through the council and I know the executive of Clare County Council are meeting with hem. But as councillors we are not getting the information as to what actually is happening and what the hopes are for Moneypoint. I think that needs to be clarified once and for all,” he added.