EirGrid is the designated Transmission System Operator and its role includes the operation, maintenance and development of the electricity transmission network in Ireland. The construction of the North South Interconnector, and all related procurement activities, is an operational matter for EirGrid and ESB Networks and one in which I have no function.
I assume that the Deputy is referring in his Question to the EirGrid/ESB Infrastructure Agreement.
All of the relevant parties sought the agreement of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) which approved “expenditure efficiently incurred” on the advance procurement. Following this approval, in September 2017 ESB Networks commenced a number of procurement processes in relation to the project.
I am assured that ESB Networks do not intend placing orders for material supply until all legal and planning issues have been finalised.
I believe that this important new cross-Border infrastructure will significantly facilitate the integration of renewable energy into the power system in line with the Programme for Government, will improve the efficient operation of the all-island Single Electricity Market, increase the security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland, will bring economic benefits to the region and can address our climate objectives on the island of Ireland.