ESB bosses have conceded efforts to convert its Lough Ree power plant to biomass and avert its closure at the end of next month is a source of “significant regret” to the company.
Senior Manager with the semi-State firm Jim Murray told last week's county council meeting of the frustration he and fellow senior figures felt at the station's impending closure.
Mr Murray said the firm were conducting a review of assets ahead of moves to press ahead with the site's demolition.
“Under our planning we are obligated to remediate the site by the end of 2022 and the demolition work of part of this process is expected to take the majority of this time,” he told the meeting.
Both Lough Ree and the ESB's sister plant at Shannonbridge, Co Offaly, are due to close in just over four weeks time after failing to secure permission to switch them to biomass power stations.
“Both of these sites were designed for the specific purpose of the combustion of solid fuel and we have looked at a number of alternatives and the conversion to biomass was the only option for use of existing technology.”
Cllr Paraic Brady was one of those to register his displeasure at what he termed as a “lack of forward thinking” in proceeding with renewable alternatives for the site at an earlier stage.
“It is a missed opportunity,” he said.
“That building we are talking about taking down is actually relatively new and going forward when it was built we could have had biomass.
“It is something we will regret into the future and how there was no forward thinking.”
Mr Murray, however, played down suggestions of mass lay-offs when the facility does cease operating next month by insisting affected staff were being offered redeployment to other areas of the firm.
“We are giving a commitment that all employees who wish to remain with the ESB will be offered alternative employment and a number have already taken this opportunity and moved to different parts of the ESB,” he said.