ESB application for co-firing power plants ‘long overdue’

The ESB’s application to co-fire peat-fuelled power plants with biomass is ‘long overdue’, according to Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen.

Speaking at a sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action yesterday, November 13, Deputy Cowen outlined his hope that the ESB would apply for permission to co-fire the plants at Shannonbridge and Lanesborough sometime within the next week.

“ESB application for co-firing is long overdue. I hope and expect that the application will be made within a week,” said Deputy Cowen, who added that, after the application process already undergone at Edenderry, there didn’t need to be a delay.

Planning permission hasn’t been applied for, despite the fact you would expect that there’s a blueprint there for permission to be repeated at the two plants in Shannonbridge and Lanesburough, because of the process that was gone through at Edenderry initially.

The Offaly TD also questioned the realism of Bord Na Mona’s expectation for 2027, when it is due to stop burning peat altogether.

“Based on what the CEO has said, there is no cast iron commitment that he can live up to the expectation he has for 2027, which means that many of those jobs remain in jeopardy in the short term.

There has to be a specific targets initiative and effort on the part of Government, together with the EU, to ensure this region has a chance of getting through this and coming out a stronger region than it was going into it.

Cowen’s comments came at the end of the session, in which Bord na Mona CEO Tom Donnellan and three of his colleagues were grilled by the committee members.

While some members, including Cowen’s party colleague Timmy Dooley, were complimentary of Bord na Mona’s efforts to convert to biomass while easing the burden of workers who are laid-off, other members showed less confidence.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, Green Party TD Eamon Ryan, and Senator Michelle Mulherin were concerned about various aspects of Bord na Mona’s plans, including what happens to people who are laid-off from those plants, and the social effects those redundancies could bring.