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29 Nov 2021

Did ESB "orchestrate energy crisis", Barry Cowen asks in Dáil

Did ESB "orchestrate energy crisis", Barry Cowen asks in Dáil

Lough Ree Power Station, which closed last year

The role of the ESB in the "exacerbating" the energy crisis was questioned by Deputy Barry Cowen in the Dáil this week. 

Deputy Cowen also asked if a “cosy arrangement” between national grid operator EirGrid and the energy supplier is giving the ESB an unfair advantage over other firms.

Deputy Cowen claimed EirGrid is running a tender process for energy supply which “has a strong bias” towards an ESB power station in Dublin.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said: “I have learned that the technical criteria and timelines swing very much in favour of the ESB.

"One example is the six-month delivery timeframe between the contract's award in March 2022 and the commencement of service provision by quarter three of that year.”

Mr Cowen also claimed EirGrid paid a €10m down payment to the ESB on a €110m contract which subsequently did not transpire.

“That is highly unusual, I would say,” he added. “It was sanctioned and paid in the midst of a process that could not subsequently be defended in the courts and was, therefore, withdrawn.”

He asked Green Party Minister Ossian Smyth to “respectfully find out if this money has been repaid”.

He also raised concern over ESB withdrawing “significant generation capacity” this year which led to the company facing fines of €4m.

"Last December, it shut down the West Offaly power station and the Lough Ree power station in the midlands, removing 228 MW of generation capacity," Deputy Cowen said. 

“Will the Minister of State please explain why the ESB, a semi-state, is being rewarded handsomely despite exacerbating the supply shortage? Could the ESB have orchestrated this crisis by exercising its market power knowing that it would be rewarded, as I have outlined?” he added. 

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