Eirgrid updated Mayo County Council on its North Connacht 110kV project. The development replaces the ill-fated Grid West project which was abandoned in 2017.
Although there has been a reduction in anticipated wind generation in the region, there is still a need to connect generators. This can now be met through the development of 110 kV electricity infrastructure; not the 220 kV or 400 kV infrastructure that was proposed under Grid West.
The start point for the North Connacht project will be at the Moy substation near Ballina. The endpoint will be either Tonroe substation near Ballaghaderreen or Srananagh substation near Sligo.
The project will be a 110 kV overhead line or underground cable. If an overhead line is used the majority of the line would be carried on twin pole sets.
There are four possible route corridors for the overhead option up for consideration and three possible underground routes have been identified.
Aidan Corcoran, Manager of Transmissions Projects with Eirgrid, outlined to councillors the current status of the North Connacht Project.
He said a public information process planned for March has had to be postponed due to Coronavirus concerns. Public information days planned for Ballina, Foxford, Swinford, Charlestown, Tubbercurry and Ballaghaderreen, will take place at a future date.
Following the consultation process, Eirgrid hopes that the project will go to planning early next year with a delivery date of 2024 pencilled in.
Following the presentation, there were some tetchy exchanges between councillors. Fine Gael’s Peter Flynn and John O’Hara pressed for a 220kV line to be considered.
Cllr Flynn said it will have the potential to attract more multi-nationals to the county. Cllr O’Hara said the current lines are not ‘half capable.’ “We should be pushing this 100% and looking at the 220kV line,” he added.
Their comments drew the ire of Independent councillor Seamus Weir who left Fine Gael over the contentious GridWest project.
He accused his fellow councillors of talking ‘nonsense’ and added he has no opposition to the 110kV line as long as the underground delivery option is selected.
Mr Corcoran said a 100kv line is appropriate to meet the energy needs of Mayo for the foreseeable future.
Peter Hynes, Chief Executive of Mayo Council, warned that the project would not please everyone. “This information sometimes comes with pain. And on the other side the gain is keeping people in the county,” said Mr Hynes.
He said an open mind on overhead and underground options is required.
“If it is feasible to put it underground so be it, but if not overhead needs to be welcomed,” he stated.