In­vest­ment of €120m but ESB im­prove­ments are still needed

New Ross Standard - - INTERVIEW - By DAVID LOOBY

IN re­cent years al­most €100m has been in­vested in County Wex­ford’s elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture, with a fur­ther €20m spend un­der way, but prob­lems per­sist.

ESB Net­works Ire­land con­firmed to this news­pa­per that the com­pany has set up a work­ing group to ad­dress spe­cific con­cerns raised at a meet­ing of Wex­ford County Coun­cil this sum­mer about poor elec­tric­ity sup­ply in the south east of the county. In early Au­gust a fault in Wex­ford town saw 1,760 cus­tomers lose power for an hour or more. Cus­tomers were left frus­trated by the way power was re­stored - on and off again, mul­ti­ple times, over a 20-minute du­ra­tion, which neg­a­tively im­pacted elec­tri­cal de­vices and surge pro­tec­tors. ESB spokesper­son Paul Hand said: ‘Fault sit­u­a­tions can oc­cur to both over­head and un­der­ground net­works for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons – a tree fall­ing on an over­head line, a civil works con­trac­tor hit­ting a ca­ble, a light­ning strike. In this case, a ca­ble fault oc­curred in a sec­tion of line. Crews were im­me­di­ately mo­bilised and re­stored sup­ply to all cus­tomers within a num­ber of hours. Sup­ply restora­tion takes pri­or­ity over fault lo­ca­tion. The lo­ca­tion of a fault is not al­ways ob­vi­ous and as such ESB Net­works need to go through a process to lo­cate the source of the fault.’

He said this process can in­volve switching in and out dif­fer­ent sec­tions of net­work un­til the ex­act lo­ca­tion is found – so hence the in­ter­mit­tent na­ture of sup­ply while the fault lo­ca­tion was pin­pointed. ‘ESB Net­works are con­stantly seek­ing ways to im­prove the “fault hunt­ing” process by us­ing re­mote tech­nolo­gies. We are acutely con­scious of the im­per­a­tive for re­li­able in­for­ma­tion on restora­tion times. Our net­work tech­ni­cians will gen­er­ally have up­dated the Es­ti­mated Restora­tion Times on the Pow­erCheck app and www.pow­ercheck.ie to re­flect the time it will take to lo­cate and re­pair the fault.’

Mr Hand said a group is look­ing at ex­ist­ing data and gath­er­ing new in­for­ma­tion to de­ter­mine what is caus­ing the con­ti­nu­ity prob­lems in the Kil­more Quay, Our Lady’s Is­land, Ross­lare ar­eas. ‘ESB Net­works will make the in­vest­ment nec­es­sary to im­prove con­ti­nu­ity in the area. The out­put from the work­ing group is ex­pected in the com­ing weeks and will re­sult in a pro­gramme of work to ad­dress our find­ings. It could in­volve bird de­ter­rents, cat­tle de­ter­rents, greater use of smart tech­nolo­gies etc.’

He said there are no ca­pac­ity prob­lems in the area that would pre­vent new busi­ness and do­mes­tic con­nec­tions com­ing on stream in the fu­ture. ‘ We are work­ing to cre­ate a more re­li­able, more re­silient, more se­cure, cleaner and safer sup­ply to homes, farms and busi­nesses across the county.’

ESB Net­works is in­vest­ing a fur­ther €20m worth of key in­fra­struc­ture projects in other parts of County Wex­ford. Th­ese in­vest­ments specif­i­cally tar­get the south­ern por­tion of the county and are be­ing in­tro­duced as part of ESB’s con­ti­nu­ity im­prove­ment plan. Mr Hand said. ‘It means that cu­mu­la­tively, €120m will have been spent on County Wex­ford’s elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture dur­ing the ten years up to 2020. Th­ese sig­nif­i­cant capital in­vest­ments are al­ready bear­ing fruit, fa­cil­i­tat­ing a 26 per cent in­crease in busi­ness con­nec­tions in the county in 2018 alone.’

ESB Net­works Di­vi­sional Man­ager Carmel O’Con­nor said that in the past decade, ESB Net­works con­tin­ues to in­vest in state-of-the-art in­fra­struc­ture in Wex­ford. ‘ The en­hanced net­work in the county will bring sig­nif­i­cant long term ben­e­fits for the peo­ple of Wex­ford, with a more ef­fi­cient, cleaner and more re­silient elec­tric­ity sys­tem help­ing lo­cal busi­nesses grow and at­tract­ing in­ward in­vest­ment. ESB Net­works is deeply em­bed­ded in the com­mu­ni­ties we serve, so we are de­pen­dent on the co­op­er­a­tion and un­der­stand­ing of homes, farms and busi­nesses with all such up­grades, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to ac­cess­ing lands and planned elec­tric­ity out­ages, so I would like to thank all those in Wex­ford for their pa­tience.’

Ms O’Con­nor said that with cli­mate change in­creas­ing the fre­quency of ex­treme weather events, the in­vest­ment in a re­silient and smarter net­work for the county is timely and es­sen­tial.

THE EN­HANCED NET­WORK WILL BRING SIG­NIF­I­CANT LONG TERM BEN­E­FITS FOR THE PEO­PLE OF WEX­FORD

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