The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action will hold a hearing today on energy security amid growing concern over the supply of electricity.
Committee Cathaoirleach Green Party TD Brian Leddin said there are now “…fears of supply restrictions and even blackouts this winter”.
The energy crisis in Europe has intensified in recent weeks, adding to problems which already existed in Ireland with the supply of power to the grid.
A series of amber alerts over the summer and concerns over the future of gas supplies in Europe have heightened concerns that supply will be able to keep pace with demand in Ireland this winter.
It is understood the industry regulator, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, will lay out in its opening statement the programme of work under way to bring new generation capacity onto the grid.
The operator of the grid, EirGrid, said the auction system run by the CRU to attract new power generators in Ireland “is not fit for purpose”.
Yesterday, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said the commission is working on what she called “an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Leddin said the committee will be discussing issues specific to Ireland, such as the challenge to meet its generation needs in the coming months and years ahead.
“We want to bring in these main players, discuss those challenges and ultimately at the end of the session we would hope to be reassured that we won’t have a failure of the system.
“Of course, that would be absolutely catastrophic and we want to be assured that the costs to consumers won’t be excessive either.”
Mr Leddin said the regulator “needs to assure us that the generation will be there to meet the demand that is forecast in the winter to come because we are seeing amber alerts on the system.”
He added: “It’s such that if any big thing goes wrong at that point, then there’ll be a very serious situation, we don’t want to be in a situation where we have amber alerts especially in the wintertime when people are very dependent on energy and smaller users, and indeed larger users as well.”
He said the committee will “tease out” issues between the CRU and Eirgrid, adding, “I think we need to see that both parties are working together and at the end of the meeting today, everybody is assured that both are treating it as their absolute highest priority, that we will have a stable energy supply into the winter coming.”