Dáil Éireann - Volume 580 - 18 February, 2004

Written Answers. - Energy Development Project.

  243. Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the timescale in which he envisages the new east-west electricity interconnector between Ireland and Britain being built; and his views on whether it is appropriate that the Government should manage the interconnector. [5176/04]

  Mr. D. Ahern: As the Deputy will be aware, the Government has given its approval to the development of two 500 MW east-west Ireland-Wales electricity interconnectors, as a priority.

The Government decision will involve, in the first instance, the Commission for Energy Regulation, CER, being charged with promoting and assessing the degree of interest in the development of merchant interconnectors to be constructed, managed and owned by the private sector and not by the Government.

In the event of no substantive interest emerging on the part of the private sector for a merchant interconnector type project, the CER will then move to host a competition for construction, management and ownership of regulated interconnectors, underpinned by a guaranteed regulated revenue stream covering costs, either in whole or in part. Any CER competition arrangements would seek to maximise risk transfer from and minimise costs to the consumer downstream. By virtue of the fact that the competition would be open, the results will dictate management options. While it is not possible at this stage to give a detailed timescale for build, the target date for commencement of capital works on the interconnector is by end 2006 or earlier if possible.