Wednesday 22 November 2017

Green light for power plant puts 500 construction jobs in pipeline

Paul Melia and Eoghan MacConnell

UP to 500 construction jobs will be created in the midlands after plans to build a power station were given the green light yesterday.

An Bord Pleanala has granted permission to Lumcloon Energy to build a €350m gas-fired electricity-generating plant in Co Offaly, which will result in 500 construction jobs and 50 permanent positions when it is completed in 2013.

But there was confusion last night over the amount of electricity the plant will be allowed to produce after Lumcloon said it had only received authorisation to produce 100MW of power from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

This is despite the plant being designed to produce 350MW.

Spokesman John Gallagher said although the plant could be built with a 100MW capacity, it would not be as efficient.

"The aim of the plant is to provide support for wind energy. When the wind is not blowing, the plant can be switched on and be operational in 15 minutes to provide back-up capacity. At 100MW, the plant will run all the time but it's not what the plant was conceived for."

But a spokesman for CER said that the 100MW related to available capacity on the grid. It had not received any application from the company seeking authorisation to construct a power plant or to generate electricity, and at this stage it saw "no reason" why an application would be refused.

"We have a role in issuing permits to power plant operators, typically applied for after planning permission is in place.


"In this case, we have not yet received the applications. I have no reason at this stage to think we will refuse them," he said.

"I think the 100MW refers to a different thing. That 100MW is capacity that's available on the grid.

"I think the grid is congested, given the amount of power plants that are going to connect, including wind farms. There are more applications than capacity."

It is hoped construction will begin at the end of this year, and most of the 500 jobs will be created locally.

The station, which is on the 4.6 hectare site of the old ESB peat-burning station at Lumcloon near Ferbane, will include four 38-metre tall stacks.

Members of Offaly County Council support the scheme, and the company has agreed to provide €150,000 over three years to local community projects.

Laois/Offaly Fine Gael TD, Olwyn Enright welcomed the decision"at a time when job creation is of the utmost importance."

The plant is designed to support the renewable energy strategy and will supply energy as required.

Irish Independent

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