Electricity demand falls to 2005 levels on economy slump - Eirgrid
ELECTRICITY demand fell to a level not seen since 2005 as a result of the economic slowdown and will probably not recover to 2008 levels until some time between 2012 and 2014, according to the chief executive of Eirgrid, the semi-state body that manages the island's electricity transmission network.
Dermot Byrne made the comments as Eirgrid unveiled its annual report and plans to create 300 "sustainable" jobs over the next five years as it embarks on a major upgrade of the transmission network. Mr Byrne said that there had been a 5.4pc decline in demand for electricity in the Republic of Ireland during the 12 months to the end of last September, and a 3.7pc fall in demand in Northern Ireland.
He added that apart from a short period of demand reduction during the recessionary period between 1980 and 1981, the declines experienced in the past year have only ever been mirrored during World War Two, when it was supply capability rather than a lack of demand that spurred the fall.
But despite the demand weakness last year and the still tough economic conditions, Mr Byrne said that there had been some "small signs of recovery" in the first quarter of this calendar year, with demand up just under 1pc.
GDP growth and decline is closely shadowed by electricity demand.
Eirgrid now manages the transmission network across the whole island of Ireland in conjunction as part of the Single Electricity Market Operator (SEMO), which also includes the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI). Eirgrid acquired SONI in March last year, paying a total of €34.8m.
Overall revenue at Eirgrid for the year to the end of last September was €410.7m, compared with €282.7m for the nine months to the end of September 2009. Operating profit for the last 12-month financial period was €9.4m, compared with €8.6m for the previous nine-month reporting period.
Eirgrid chairperson Bernie Gray, whose five-year term was due to expire next September, said she has been asked by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to continue in the role. This was at the request of Eirgrid's board.
Mr Byrne's basic salary was €228,000 in the financial year to the end of September, but he took a voluntary 10pc paycut effective from January 2009, which reduced that amount by €17,000 to €211,000.
However, he also received a long-term incentive payment of €57,000 relating to a three-year period ended in December 2008, and an annual bonus of €40,000 -- net of the 10pc voluntary reduction, taxable benefits worth €18,000 and €68,000 in pension contributions, and director's fees of €13,000 to bring his total package to €407,000. That compared with a total of €268,000 in the previous nine-month reporting period.