Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, is calling for the environment minister’s resignation over what he has described as the minister’s “insistence to neglect power generation”.
The Roscommon-Galway TD called for Minister Eamon Ryan to stand down, following news that plans are in motion to provide emergency-power generation in Dublin ahead of next winter, as a result of a number of amber alerts regarding energy-supply levels in recent months.
Deputy Fitzmaurice said:
“In the mad stampede to move to renewable-electricity generation, this country has neglected the upkeep of a reliable back-up for power generation.
“I have repeatedly stated that we are facing potential blackouts by 2026 due to the path we are taking, but that could be become a reality much sooner.
“As part of the brown-to-green agenda, we turned our backs on the plants in Lanesboro and Shannonbridge, while operations in Moneypoint in Co. Clare are winding down.
“Major power plants at Huntstown, Co. Dublin, and Whitegate, Co. Cork, have been closed for repairs, which could, reportedly, take months to complete.
“In reality, we only surpassed the record for peak demand set in the cold spell of 2010 last December when the figure reached 5,357MW. This beat the previous peak by 245MW,” said Deputy Fitzmaurice.
Currently, during the course of a weekday, peak electricity demand generally reaches slightly above 5,000MW at 6:00p.m before gradually falling to its lowest level in the early hours of the next morning, the deputy said.
Demand increases from 6:00a.m until 8:00a.m, and then remains steady before reaching its peak.
“Major questions need to be asked of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), Ireland’s independent energy and water regulator. The CRU is tasked with, among other things, ensuring Irish consumers have access to secure and sustainable energy at a reasonable cost.”
Deputy Fitzmaurice said he believes the regulator has failed to do their job, but ultimately, the blame lies at the minister’s door.
“It is his party that has driven this green agenda to a point where we will be leaving ourselves both economically and socially vulnerable if power outages become a reality.”
He added that it is “laughable” that the government is trying to “ram legislation through the Dáil so that emergency generators can bypass planning laws”.
“It is expected that these emergency generators will cost €200 million and they will be powered by gas or diesel.
“It is ironic that the Greens and this government are trying to circumvent planning laws, which would prevent anyone else from doing something like this by ramming through legislation in an effort to save their blushes.
“The government was unable, or unwilling, to bring in legislation when it mattered to allow the power plants in Lanesboro and Shannonbridge continue for another few short years.
“The repairs and upgrades at the plants in Huntstown and Whitegate would have been well flagged up to this. The delay in carrying out these works and the construction of other plants is a gross failure on the part of this government, Minister Ryan and the regulator.”
All this, added to his decisions not to allow further oil or gas exploration, or the extension of the gas pipeline infrastructure, it leaves Ireland extremely vulnerable, said the deputy.
“Having spoken to people in industry, there are big fears that Ireland will lose major employers as a result of the rising uncertainty around electricity supply,” he said.