In Committee on Finance. - Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill, 1934—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill is designed to increase the amount provided by the Electricity Supply (Amendment) Act, 1931, by £1,160,000. The main purposes for which this additional capital is required by the Board are associated with its ordinary working. At this stage I should say that another Bill will have to be introduced in the present session of the Dáil to provide capital for the Electricity Supply Board to undertake certain operations outside its ordinary workings and particularly to provide for additional storage on the Shannon. I mention that fact now because, otherwise, some misunderstanding as to the future policy of the Board may arise from a mere statement of the purposes for which the money provided in this Bill is required. The intention originally was to introduce one Bill providing both for the ordinary capital required by the Electricity Supply Board, and the money required for storage and other purposes, but, as the drafting of the Bill dealing with storage is likely to be a task of considerable difficulty, and may take some time, it was decided to proceed with the present measure.

Under Section 12 (2) of the Electricity Act, 1927, a sum of £156,000 was advanced to the Electricity Supply Board. Authority for the expenditure of the whole of that sum was asked for and received. Under Section 12 (3) of the same Act a sum of £2,500,000 was provided, of which £1,904,000, to the nearest thousand, was expended. The Act of 1931 provided and additional £2,000,000, of which £1,809,000 was the sum for the expenditure of which authority had been sought to the end of January, 1934. The Electricity Supply Act of 1932 authorised an additional expenditure of £365,000, of which £315,000 had been authorised to be expended up to January of this year. The total amount provided by all these Acts was £5,021,000, from which is to be deducted the sum of £756,118 in consequence of the restrictions under Section 39 (6) of the 1927 Act, leaving the net figure of £4,264,882, out of which authority had been given for an expenditure to the end of January, 1934, of £4,182,893. The balance therefore available to the E. S. Board to the end of January of this year was £81,989. The E. S. Board estimate their capital requirements for the three years 1933-34, 1934-35 and 1935-36 at £1,436,600. The balance from the amounts made available under previous Acts available at the 1st April, 1933, was £276,100. The net amount required, therefore, to finance capital works in the three years is £1,160,500. The sum of £1,160,000 is being provided in this Bill.

The main objects for which the additional capital is required all arise out of the ordinary working and growth of the undertaking. Deputies may recollect that in the year 1931, when the Electricity Supply Act was introduced by Deputy McGilligan, there was a somewhat acrimonious debate in the course of which Deputy McGilligan said he contemplated a time coming when Acts to provide additional capital for the E. S. Board would be regarded as merely routine measures in somewhat the same light as Acts to provide capital for the telephone system are at present regarded. This measure might properly be described as a measure of that kind. The sum which it provides is designed to finance the ordinary development of the electricity supply scheme for the three years from 1st April, 1933 to 31st March, 1936.

I will give Deputies the main items under which the expenditure will arise, but, first of all, I should stress that there is nothing abnormal in the expenditure. The first item is a sum of £50,000 required this year, to which is to be added £28,000 required next year for the deepening of the River Shannon at Killaloe. The board have been advised that it is necessary to carry out this work. The carrying out of the work was contemplated when the scheme was initiated, but it did not become necessary until the partial development stage had been passed. As Deputies are aware, the fourth turbine has been installed at Ardnacrusha. The initial stage is now definitely passed and it is necessary that this work should be carried out. As a result of the expenditure the available output of the station will be somewhat improved through the possibility of a greater utilisation of storage in Lough Derg and through the increased head of water obtainable. The expenditure under this head will not involve any consequential revenue expenditure. There is a sum of £1,500 required this year for various minor improvements at Ardnacrusha. The greater part of that money will be expended on improving the reliability of the cooling system.

A large item of expenditure involving £64,400 in the present year and £5,000 next year arises under the head of various improvements in the Pigeon House. In the first place, it is necessary to provide for the installation of additional pumping stations and the provision of a circulating water supply. The present circulating water supply from the Pigeon House harbour will be inadequate for the increasing capacity of the station and insufficient to ensure the reliability of the supply. It is also necessary to engage upon extensive dredging operations at the Pigeon House harbour and for an extension of the wharf to make provision for coal boats larger than can be handled there at the present time. The present facilities permit only of boats carrying 500 tons to be used and, as the limitation thus imposed restricts the amount of coal that can be imported per week, the extension of the wharf and the dredging of the harbour become necessary. All this is necessary in consequence of the increased capacity of the station. For a similar reason it is necessary to make provision for additional coal storage and coal handling equipment.

There are various items of expenditure necessary upon the transmission system arising entirely out of increases in the load. Extensions to transformer stations will require expenditure. Also there are substantial items of expenditure contemplated in each of the three years upon the distribution system. The expenditure under these heads involves the realisation of substantial additional revenue to the Board. That work arises out of the ordinary development of the system. It is undertaken when it is shown that the capital will be remunerative having regard to the estimated extent to which the extended system will be utilised. There are smaller items, £3,100 in 1933-34, £4,500 in the following year and £4,700 in 1935-36, capital expenditure arising out of the change over of consumers' apparatus and heaters to the alternating current system. An estimated capital expenditure of £80,000 per year is required in connection with the connecting of new areas. It is proposed to provide a capital sum of £3,500 in each year for work in connection with the projection of future developments. An inquiry into the installation of the Liffey for power purposes is being undertaken and will be covered out of that provision. The Board has made representation that provision of suitable accommodation for the head office staff has become a matter of urgency and it is proposed to undertake the building of new offices for which a capital sum of £60,000 is provided for 1934-35 and a similar sum for the following year. There is provision for £30,000 a year to cover contingencies which must arise in an undertaking of this size and a further contingency item arising out of the extension of the transmission and distribution system for £20,000 1933/34, £50,000 1934/35, and £39,000 1935/36. It is necessary to have a margin to facilitate a type of growth of which it is not possible to have accurate measurement now. For example, a heavy industrial load might call for a substantial expenditure on the transmission system.

It being 9 o'clock, and Private Deputies' Business being down by Order, the debate stood adjourned.