Power upgrade vital to Letterkenny jobs

Concern that electricity supply won't attract investment

Power upgrade vital to Letterkenny jobs
Declan Magee:news'donegaldemocrat.com@dgldemocrat

The electricity supply into Donegal must be further upgraded if the county is going to attract the type of investment it needs, a leading business group has said.

Letterkenny Chamber is calling on Eirgrid to increase the supply from 110kV to at least 220kV .

The chamber says that while the installation of the Project Kelvin line across the Atlantic is of great benefit for attracting investors, that must be matched by a better electricity supply that matches what is available in other parts of the country.

The county’s electricity supply was upgraded in recent years with the construction of a 110 kv line from Binbane to Letterkenny. A new substation at Tievebrack near Glenties and a new110 kV line from Tievebrack to Ardnagappary near Derrybeg, are also expected to be complete before the end of 2017.

But Letterkenny Chamber says this upgrade is insufficient, and over a year after it met with Eirgrid to discuss future plans, says plans for an upgrade are needed urgently.

Toni Forrester, CEO of Letterkenny Chamber, said the chamber is disappointed that an upgrade of supply into Donegal is not included in EirGrid plans over the next decade.

“It took tens years to get the 110kV line through planning and we thought that would do our future needs, but we realise that to attract businesses with large data requirements, data centers, that it (110kV ) is not up to starch. It would not be sufficient.

“The electricity supply is so much more robust than it was ten years ago and is good, but looking at the country as a whole, Donegal has 110kV and most places have 220kV. For an economy like ours that wants to grow, we need to future proof our electricity supply. We feel we don't have the electricity supply for the amount of data centres that we want. It’s limiting our potential.

“No one is talking about it overly loud. The council are aware of it and working on it. For small business what we have is fine, but to attract the right foreign direct investment we need to future proof our electricity supply. And we need at least 220kV and we are very disappointed that there are no plans for that.”

In a statement issued to the Donegal Democrat, Eirgrid said it is continuing to engage with Donegal County Council and the IDA to ensure that the grid is developed in line with the broader economic strategy.

“EirGrid continues to review the requirements for further investment in Donegal and is currently working on in-depth technical assessments of the county’s future transmission needs.”

Pictured: Toni Forrester of Letterkenny Chamber and a general view of Letterkenny.