Traders' concern as ESB to turn off power at height of tourist season

Tourism businesses across south Kerry are aghast at planned power outages across the entire Ring of Kerry as the tourist seasons ramps up.

The ESB announced this week it is to upgrade the network across rural south Kerry this summer, starting in Cahersiveen next week.

The works will lead to power outages in every single area on the Ring: Cahersiveen, Waterville, Portmagee, Ballinskelligs and Valentia. Sneem, Kenmare, Killorglin and rural mid-Kerry will also be affected.

“These are the only three months of the year when we make a living and they are doing the works during this. This is 100 per cent bad timing,” Emer Conway from O’Connells Foodstore and Post Office in Portmagee said.

Vincent Kidd from The Royal Hotel in Valentia described the timing of the works as ‘hugely inconvenient’.

"This affects everything. It will depend on the level of disruption. They could have waited until the end of the season," said Mr Kidd.

Gerard Kennedy from The Moorings in Portmagee said the timing was 'ridiculous'.

Hotels and accommodation providers - along with local shops, homes and businesses - will be without power for hours at a time, which means that computers and booking systems, along with credit-card machines, will not work at a time when thousands of visitors are in the region.

A spokesperson for ESB said this week that there is "no good time to do the works" and that they must be done to improve electricity supply to rural South Kerry.

"It is short-term pain for long-term gain," said area manager Gerard Deenihan.

"This is a major project for the region, and we couldn't work in the territory during the winter. It has to be done."

The ESB have not yet contacted local business and customers affected, but they will give two weeks' notice of power cuts. They also said that the power outages will be for most of the day but that they will 'work with the people' to try and accommodate them - but added that the works are taking place and there will be power outages.

The project will see more than €1m invested by ESB, and TLI will be the contractors on the projects.

Local tourism and developments groups have also called on the ESB to put the poles underground now, but this will not be undertaken.

Denis Kearney of Waterville Business Association said that the local community has long called for ESB poles to be put underground, but this will not form part of this upgrade project.