I propose to answer Questions Nos. 16, 20 and 54 together.
The feasibility of an electrical inter-connector to the United Kingdom has been examined by ESB. While there is no technical difficulty in such a connection, the economics are unacceptable.
The estimated costs of an interconnector lie between £370 million and £450 million and there is, at this time, no decision to proceed with the project, or to seek EU assistance.
It is clear from the figures available that a large power station up to 500MW, could be built and located in Ireland with local value-added and employment here for less than the cost of an inter-connector to the UK.
The restoration of the North/South interconnector was completed last month and it is now operational.
The proposed Northern Ireland to Scotland interconnector is at present the subject of a public inquiry in Northern Ireland. If they get the go-ahead for this interconnector, Northern Ireland Electricity expect it to be operational towards the end of 1997. This will then link the electricity system in the Republic to the wider UK grid and will obviate the need for a direct link to the UK at this time.