Friday 15 December 2017

ESB refuses to pay back school powered by turbine

Katherine Donnelly

ON a windy day in the west of Ireland, Lisheenkyle national school is doing more than its bit for energy saving by creating its own power -- and sending its surpluses into the national grid.

In the first scheme of its type in Ireland, the school of 210 pupils in Athenry, Co Galway, is producing energy with its own wind turbine.

But it has learnt the hardest of lessons when a claim to the ESB seeking credits for the excess that it feeds into the national grid was turned down.

The ESB rules say that only domestic consumers are eligible for a micro-generation initiative through which it buys surplus power from domestic consumers generating their own electricity.

Local businessman and Entrepreneur of the Year, John Flaherty, whose company C&F produces the state of the art machines, donated the €35,000 wind turbine to the school.

It became operational last week and produces enough energy to power the school.

On the 183 days the school is open it can benefit from the wind energy and save on its electricity bills.

But on the other 182 days the energy will go straight into the grid, for which the school was expecting to obtain credits from the ESB.

But school principal Anne Keary's application to the ESB met with a blunt refusal: "I wish to inform you that as a non-domestic customer you are not entitled to the free Import/Export meter."

She was hoping the turbine would help to reduce their annual oil-fired heating bill of at least €10,000.

"If we were credited for the unused power we are generating, we could install electric heating in some classrooms," she said.

An ESB spokesperson said the domestic scheme was a pilot project.

A broader support framework across all customer categories was currently under consideration with Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources.

Irish Independent

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