The excuses provided by the ESB for its decision to halt electricity being generated at the Lough Ree Power plant in Lanesboro are totally unacceptable, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The ESB has claimed that the plant has been taken off load as a precaution to prevent the downstream river temperatures from increasing by more than 1.5 degrees celcius compared to the upstream reference intake temperature.

Speaking on the matter, the Roscommon-Galway representative said: “To put it bluntly, I am not buying the excuses being bandied about by the ESB for closing Lough Ree Power.

“I believe they are hiding behind an environmental excuse in order to close the plant. If you look at the temperatures over recent nights, they have fallen to minus 2 and minus 3 degrees celcius respectively.

“I find it hard to believe that in weather conditions such as this, that there is a danger of the water temperature rising above the regulated level.

“This is just more bluster and spin from the ESB. We seen last week how electricity generation was brought to an abrupt halt at the West Offaly Power plant in Shannonbridge. A commitment was given then that at least one of either West Offaly Power or Lough Ree Power would stay open.

“The ESB is hiding behind the excuse that the move to close Lough Ree Power is required on environmental grounds. Well then, let them provide us with the facts and the reasoning to show that this move is justified.

 “The people who depend on these plants for employment deserve honesty and truth on this matter. In particular, Bord na Mona workers and hauliers have been massively impacted by the ESB’s decisions recently.

“I believe that economic reasons have a much larger role to play in these developments than what we are being led to believe. As it stands, you have to tender for electricity prices – and you have to be competitive, given the reported drop in demand.

“It looks as if generating electricity with peat is unable to compete with the likes of oil and gas at present, so tenders are not being secured.

“So if the ESB are hiding behind an environmental reason to justify the closure, it is totally unacceptable.

“As a region, the midlands is being totally left in limbo. If you look back, we were promised that a report on the just transition would be published in the first quarter of this year – this hasn’t been forthcoming.

“This is the most unjust transition imaginable for workers who have given years of service to the likes of Bord na Mona.

“The ESB needs to be held to account on this matter,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice TD 086-1914565

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