West Offaly Power plant will be staffed to the year end: ESB

The ESB has insisted that West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power stations will remain staffed until the end of the year.

It comes after it emerged that the plants were to cease producing electricity on December 11, in Shannonbridge, and December 18 in Lanesboro.

Reports of these new dates sparked anger in local communities, but the ESB insists that it is not bringing forward the closure of the stations and they will close as planned on December 31.

In a statement, the company said: “ESB will ensure that production at the Midland Stations is completed in a safe and orderly manner. In order to achieve this, West Offaly Power will stop generating electricity on 11th December and Lough Ree Power will stop generating on 18th December. Both Midland Stations will remain staffed until the end of the year and operational activity will continue during this time to ensure that the stations are put in a final safe state.

“Due to market rules and commercial sensitivity, ESB cannot provide any further comment on the operation of the plants.”

Offaly councillor Cllr Eamonn Dooley again called on the ESB to stall the decommissioning of the plant to enable an in depth feasibility study to take place that would explore if the facility could be put to an alternative use.

“They are saying they need the full two years [as stipulated in the planning permission] for decommissioning, but we are saying if it is that important why not make an application to Offaly County Council to extend that condition to three years? If they were anxious to make sure that there was something left for job creation they would have agreed to that,” he said.

Speaking to RTE, Laois/Offaly Fianna Fail Deputy Barry Cowen said the decision to cease generating electricity at the plant on December 11 was a blow to the region.

"It is hard to bring people on the path of Just Transition when the likes of ESB are consistently inconsistent, bringing forward the shut-down date to 11 December."

He also noted that there had been “no commitment yet” from the ESB “to desist from decommissioning in favour of open competition for alternative use and local benefit.”

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