Written Answers. - Electricity Generation.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

83 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the steps he is taking to ensure the adequacy of the electricity supply in view of warnings from EirGrid and other sources of electricity shortages by 2005, unless new power stations are built; the plans there are for the provision of additional power stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10852/03]

The Commission for Energy Regulation, CER, is required, under section 9 of the Electricity Regulation Act 1999, to have regard to the need to secure that all reasonable demands for electricity by final customers are satisfied, in addition to promoting the continuity, security and quality of supplies of electricity.

I have been advised by the CER of the need to obtain at least 300 megawatts of centrally dispatched, large-scale plant by 2005 in order to meet generation adequacy requirements. This projected capacity requirement has been identified in the most recent forecast statement, entitled Generation Adequacy Report 2003-09, which was published by ESB national grid in November 2002, in accordance with section 38 of the Electricity Regulation Act 1999.

The CER, in exercise of its responsibilities, announced on 20 December 2002 that, following extensive consultation and having examined a number of options, it was of the view that the most appropriate approach to securing additional capacity is to award a contract to one or more successful bidders, through a competitive process for the purchase of 300 megawatts to 400 megawatts of electricity. The CER is also of the view that ESB, operating as the public electricity supplier, PES, is best placed in the market to offer such a contract.

The CER has in recent days published its guidelines document for the competition it will run to facilitate the entry of new generation plants into Ireland. The guidelines document for the competition contains key information for potential bidders in the competition including: a description of the competitive process, the planned competition timescale, the minimum criteria which generators must meet, details of the contract to be awarded and an outline of the bid and evaluation process. According to the CERs guidelines, potential bidders must submit expressions of interest to the commission in early May 2003, while formal invitations to tender are expected to issue at the end of May 2003. Contracts will then be offered to successful bidders in October 2003.