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EirGrid defends €600m cost of power connector

EirGrid has defended the €600m cost of its East-West power link between Ireland and Wales and refuted claims that the project did not represent value for money.

The claim was made this week by industry rival Imera, a company which is planning to build two separate smaller interconnectors between Ireland and Wales, as well as a third link to France.

Imera said that, at €200m, its own Ireland-Wales interconnector will cost one-third of the EirGrid-sponsored link.

But EirGrid said yesterday that the contract it awarded for the development of its own interconnector was the result of an open, competitive tender process and expressed confidence that the price is the best available.

It said the project which EirGrid tendered for is different from the Imera-proposed interconnector.

"The route for the EirGrid East-West interconnector and the connection points to the Irish and UK systems were selected to deliver by 2012, and to represent the best value to the Irish electricity customer."

The national grid operator also said that that the proposed Imera interconnector has only 70pc of the capacity of the EirGrid interconnector.

Imera maintains that the €600m cost is bad value, pointing to the lack of competition in the cable supply business in Northern Europe, a business which has been the subject of an EU investigation.

Decision

EirGrid has already completed sub-sea surveys and is now waiting on a decision from An Bord Pleanala.

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"The EirGrid project will enable increased competition, boost renewable energy and add to energy security," the company said.

Unlike Imera's, the EirGrid interconnector will be a regulated entity -- the EU granted Imera a regulatory exemption because of the commercial risk surrounding its project.

Its unregulated status means that it can sell long-term capacity to power firms, a business model which will allow it to secure greater capacity utilisation.


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