Sacked Minister Barry Cowen, makes a Serious Accusation against the ESB???

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Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen claims the ESB may have ‘orchestrated’ the current energy crisis

 3rd November 2021

A HIGH-PROFILE Fianna Fáil TD has suggested the ESB may have “orchestrated” the current energy crisis for its own benefit. .

Offaly TD Barry Cowen also asked if a “cosy arrangement” between national grid operator EirGrid and the energy supplier is giving the ESB an unfair advantage over other firms.

Mr Cowen claimed EirGrid is running a tender process for energy supply which “has a strong bias” towards an ESB power station in Dublin.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said: “I have learned that the technical criteria and timelines swing very much in favour of the ESB.

“One example is the six-month delivery timeframe between the contract’s award in March 2022 and the commencement of service provision by quarter three of that year.”

Mr Cowen also claimed EirGrid paid a €10m down payment to the ESB on a €110m contract which subsequently did not transpire.

“That is highly unusual, I would say,” he added. “It was sanctioned and paid in the midst of a process that could not subsequently be defended in the courts and was, therefore, withdrawn.”

He asked Green Party Junior Minister Ossian Smyth to “respectfully find out if this money has been repaid”.

“Who is responsible, who is culpable and who is paying for this failure of EirGrid and the CRU to provide the sort of competition that was and is necessary to have lower prices in the energy sector,” Mr Cowen asked.

He also raised concern over ESB withdrawing “significant generation capacity” this year which led to the company facing fines of €4m.

He noted the closure of power stations in Offaly and Westmeath which reduced electricity capacity.

Will the Minister of State please explain why the ESB, a semi-state, is being rewarded handsomely despite exacerbating the supply shortage? Could the ESB have orchestrated this crisis by exercising its market power knowing that it would be rewarded, as I have outlined?”

Mr Cowen said he does not “enjoy exposing these matters” as he is a Government TD.

“However, when I see and recognise wrongdoing, and I see lethargy at this level and to this extent, it is my duty to highlight it.

“The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Ryan, is accountable in relation to this issue,” he said.

Mr Smyth stated that Mr Cowen had made “serious” allegations and asked him to “substantiate them with more information”.

“The deputy also made reference to a cosy arrangement between ESB and EirGrid and he suggested that the shortage of energy supply for this winter could in some way possibly have been orchestrated by ESB. These are serious things to say,” said Mr Smyth.

“I will talk to the Minister, Deputy Ryan, about it as well. His office and my office are open to the deputy if he wants to come forward with more information or if he wants to have the matter investigated further.”

In a statement this evening, an ESB spokesperson said the company “wholly rejects the assertions” made in the Dáil this morning in relation to its generation capacity.

“ESB also wholly rejects the comments made in respect of its relationship with EirGrid in the provision of emergency generation,” the spokesperson said.

“As has been well documented, ESB sought to extend the life of its two Midland stations and was disappointed that planning permission was refused by An Bord Pleanála. Despite this, ESB remains committed to the Midlands region.”

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