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Contractors cease employment at Moneypoint

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As ESB plans for the future of Moneypoint, all contractors have finished working at the power station.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, ESB outlined that as part of it’s Brighter Future strategy they are committed by 2030 “to moving to 40 percent renewable generation” which will reduce the carbon intensity their electrical generation by more than two thirds. “We will cease all generation from coal no later than 2025 and complete our transition from high carbon fuels by 2030. The Government has announced an end to coal fired generation in Ireland by 2025, well ahead of many other EU Member States. This is a key milestone for ESB and an integral part of our strategy to cut carbon emissions”.

Job security and the future of Moneypoint has been an ongoing concern in the county and ESB say they recognise “the role that Moneypoint Power Station plays in both supporting the local economy and at a national level, Moneypoint delivers secure, reliable and affordable power. ESB is committed to engaging and communicating with stakeholders on the immediate and longer term challenges arising from both the competitive environment and the planned move away from coal generation”.

“The site at Moneypoint occupies a prime location on the electricity system and we are confident that it will continue to play a key role in Ireland’s future low carbon energy system. ESB is currently examining technology options for Moneypoint beyond 2025 that will deliver large scale electricity generation, fuel diversity and security of supply. The development of replacement generation for Moneypoint however is contingent on a project winning an open auction for a capacity contract and on being commercially viable”.

According to a spokesperson for ESB, “less contractor resources are required” and so all contractors ceased employment on Friday last. A major overhaul programme was initiated in 2018 and completed in early 2019. In addition, the station has experienced reduced running in the market.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cllr Ian Lynch said the situation was “a massive concern. At the minute they’ve got rid of all the temporary workers, the contractors, there is talk that there could be possibly 100 more direct staff to go. I’m very concerned because the staff they want to let go are going to be the younger people, the older staff who are due to retire in the next couple of years will be maintained and then they will lose them to natural retirement.

“I strongly think the future of Moneypoint as a power generation station is going to stay going, they’ve too much money invested, from a commercial point of view the ESB have invested an a lot of money in the scrubbers and now they refitted the three turbines, they wouldn’t do that if they had intentions of closing down, I think the intention is to reduce the staff numbers and then take on the people on a lower terms and conditions. It’s concerning that the people going to be let go are the young people we need to make the community survive, people with kids that would be playing local GAA and local soccer, if the jobs are gone these people might move out of the area and that’s going to be a huge blow to the place”.

While he is concerned for it’s future, the Kilrush Independent councillor is adamant, “Moneypoint won’t be shut down, the asset to the whole country is too big. There is stuff we can do without a doubt, the scrubbers are playing their part but there is more we can do to help Moneypoint be more efficient and environmentally friendly. The problem is we’ve been talking about this for ten years and it always comes up around election time, people come out of the woodwork and they’re going to do this and that but there’s been no strategy from the ESB. The strategy needs to be put on paper, it needs to be put out to the public and it needs to be followed, there is stuff we can do and stuff we have to start doing because we need to make sure we protect the environment”.

Lynch added, “Initially for the next couple of years, Moneypoint will still be there and I think they will look at introducing a fourth turbine, it’s designed for four turbines and there’s only three in there, the fourth turbine will either be gas or bio-mass and they will eventually look at closing down the other turbines and I suspect there will always be one as coal always set up and it would be a good back-up for the State. You will see them transitioning to a more environmentally friendly station over the coming years but Moneypoint will still create electricity for a long time to come”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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