Thursday 23 November 2017

Rabbitte: 'I don't want to see ESB broken up'

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The ESB shouldn't be broken up but some of its power generation assets could be sold, according to Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Rabbitte said he didn't believe it would be in the best interests of the country to sell off the ESB, despite the retail arm of Bord Gais being for sale for an estimated €1bn.

"I'm also content enough to see some power generation disposed of by the ESB, but I do not want to see the ESB broken up. It's an exceptionally pivotal company," he said.

He added that he didn't think people appreciated the significance of Ireland building its own networks and having control of them. "People take energy security for granted," he said.

He didn't have a "great difficulty" with Bord Gais's retail arm being offloaded and freeing it up to "focus on the creation of a water utility company under state ownership".

The ESB had planned to sell some of the company as part of the IMF-EU drive to divest state-owned assets under the terms of the bailout programme. The Government later reined in the proposal. Instead, the ESB has been ordered to make disposals totalling €400m and also to pay a substantial dividend to the Exchequer.

Last week, the ESB said it was paying a €78m dividend to the State. It made a €194m profit last year on revenue of €3.3bn.

Rabbitte can take the heat

Irish Independent

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