Sunday 18 March 2018

Donal O'Donovan: Plunging country into darkness may spark ESB break-up

IF ESB workers really do throw Irish homes and businesses into the dark this winter they will be flicking a switch that may ultimately lead to a break-up of the power monopoly.

The ESB is one of the few remaining fully integrated electricity producers in Europe – meaning one group controls most of our power stations, all the cables that carry power across the country and sends the bill to most of us.

In many ways the group is a throwback to an era of public utilities already swept away across the rest of the continent – in fact it's a model that is basically banned under EU law. Some time ago Brussels bowed to an Irish government request to let the ESB keep ownership of the national power grid, despite rules that says power generation and networks must be separated.

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