Dublin, 7 May 2014
The Independent Expert Panel (the Panel) considering EirGrid’s Grid West and
Grid Link projects has held four meetings between 10 February 2014 and 2 May
2014. The Panel, whose Terms of Reference are appended hereunder, was appointed
by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Pat Rabbitte,
on foot of a Government decision. In line with the Government decision, the
Panel was asked to oversee the integrity of a process to be undertaken by
Eirgrid to report on the Grid West (GW) and Grid Link (GL) projects.
To that end, the Panel has now finalised and
approved the Terms of Reference (also appended hereunder) for comprehensive,
route specific studies/reports of fully undergrounded and overhead options for
each of the GW and GL projects, including assessments of potential environmental
impacts, technical efficacy and cost factors. The studies/reports will be
undertaken or commissioned by Eirgrid in accordance with those Terms of
Reference set by the Panel who will also oversee EirGrid’s study/reporting
process. Importantly, the Panel will, in due course, provide an opinion to the
Minister on the completeness, objectivity and comparability (underground with
overhead) of the studies/reports undertaken or commissioned by Eirgrid and will
oversee the publication by EirGrid of the two studies/reports prior to EirGrid
proceeding to public consultation on the two projects.
The Panel also considered issues in respect of
the North South (N/S) Transmission Line project which the Minister had raised
with the Chairperson, subsequent to the Government decision. The Minister had
asked the Chairperson to consider what, if anything, the Panel could do with
regard to the North South project (N/S).
While the N/S project is not covered by the
Government’s decision, having discussed the Minister’s request, and in the light
of the finalised Terms of Reference for the studies/reports of fully
undergrounded and overhead options for each of the GW and GL projects, the Panel
decided that it would provide an opinion to the Minister on the compatibility of
the methodologies to be employed on the GW and GL projects with what has already
been done (i.e. up to 2 May 2014, being the date that the Panel decided to
examine the N/S project) on the North South Transmission Line project.
The Panel has today written to the Minister to
apprise him of the Panel’s progress and decisions to date.
The Panel has also written today to EirGrid to
convey the Panel’s requirements with regard to the GW, GL and N/S projects.
Further statements will issue from the Panel at
appropriate future junctures.
Issued by the Independent Expert Panel
considering EirGrid’s Grid West and Grid Link projects:
- Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, Chairperson
- Professor Keith Bell
- Professor John FitzGerald
- Dr. Karen Foley
- Mr. Colm McCarthy
The Panel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Editors:
Independent Expert Panel
Terms of Reference
(2 May 2014)
The Independent Expert Panel shall provide a
report to the Minister. In preparing its report to the Minister the Independent
Expert Panel shall:
North South Transmission Line Project
- Oversee the integrity of a process that will be
undertaken by Eirgrid to report on Grid Link (GL) and Grid West (GW);
- Approve the terms of reference for comprehensive,
route specific studies/reports of fully undergrounded options for each of the GW
and GL projects, including assessments of potential environmental impacts,
technical efficacy and cost factors. The studies/reports will be undertaken
and/or commissioned by Eirgrid in accordance with the terms of reference set by
the Independent Expert Panel (IEP). The IEP will oversee EirGrid’s
study/reporting process as the IEP sees fit;
- Provide an opinion to the Minister on the
completeness, objectivity and comparability (underground with overhead) of the
studies/reports undertaken and/or commissioned by Eirgrid;
- Oversee the publication by EirGrid of the two
studies/reports prior to EirGrid proceeding to public consultation on the two
- The Independent Expert Panel shall also provide an
opinion to the Minister on the compatibility of the methodologies to be employed
on the GL and GW projects with what has already been done on the North South
Transmission Line project.
As part of its remit, the IEP:
· may commission its own work
as it sees fit, or on its own initiative, or if there is any perceived
deficiency in the studies/reports presented by Eirgrid;
· may consult with EirGrid or
any other body as the IEP sees fit;
· may only consider such
matters, engage in such activities, exercise such powers and discharge such
functions as are specifically authorised under its terms of reference.
The following matters are outside of the remit of
Underground and Overhead Studies for
Grid West and Grid Link
Terms of Reference
(2 May 2014)
- the case for the actual
provision of the North South transmission line, the Grid Link or the Grid West
- Electro Magnetic Field (EMF)
- Broader energy policy issues.
This document sets out a draft Terms of Reference
for studies/reports that would facilitate a comparative analysis of underground
and overhead alternatives for the Grid West and Grid Link projects.
It is proposed to develop route specific
alternatives for each project which can subsequently be compared under
technical, economic and environmental criteria.
The underground cable (UGC) option will be
entirely underground for the length of the circuit (in each case over 100km).
The overhead line (OHL) option will be based on HVAC technology and may include
some re-construction of existing routes and/or partial undergrounding for
limited sections where appropiate and feasible.
Terms of Reference
For each of the Grid West and Grid Link projects
undergrounding and overhead options will be assessed and analysed in respect of
Technical, Economic and Environmental characteristics. This will be done to
comparable levels of detail for each option and set out in a manner that
facilitates comparison between them. In respect of each network reinforcement
option, the study/report should concern evaluation of the particular route most
suited to use of that option. In each case, any significant assumptions made and
the sources of data used should be clearly stated.
The technical analysis will include appraisal of
- Compliance with all relevant safety standards;
- Compliance with system reliability and security
- The average failure rates during normal
operation, average repair times and availabilities of the main elements of each
- The expected impact on reliability of supply of unavailability of the
- Implementation timelines, including procurement
and availability of key equipment and resources;
- The extent to which future reinforcement of,
and/or connection to, the transmission network is facilitated;
- The risk associated with use of any untried
technology solution that would be required as part of a development option; and
- Compliance with good utility practice.
The economic analysis will include appraisal of the following:
- Project pre-engineering costs, including costs of evaluation of route, line
technology and substation options;
- Project implementation costs including:
· cost of procurement, installation and commissioning of overhead line and/or
underground cable for the required continuous pre-fault, continuous post-fault
and short-term post-fault ratings;
· costs of substations including procurement, installation and commissioning
of required protection and control equipment and any equipment necessary for
compliance with relevant technical standards;
· all relevant civil works for construction, including: for access to sites;
for any necessary river/road/rail crossings or diversions, any tunnels necessary
for any sections of underground cable, and for towers plus their foundations for
sections of overhead line; and for post-construction restoration;
· Third Party Payments (wayleaves, community gain, rates etc);
· Interest During Construction; and
· the costs of any environmental monitoring deemed necessary to mitigate the
impact of the development during construction or ongoing operation.
- Project life cycle costs (including Losses, Operation & Maintenance,
Decommissioning and the costs of retaining any necessary specialist repair
- The expected costs to operation of the Single Electricity Market arising
from unavailability of the development; and
- Estimates of the range of uncertainty attaching
to all of the cost components under all options.
The environmental analysis should be particular to each network reinforcement
option and its associated route and substation locations with each option
developed in accordance with best practice. The analysis will include:
a. The environmental impact of OHL and UGC options on the following:
· Biodiversity, flora and fauna;
· Water (surface, ground, estuarine and coastal);
· Landscape and Visual;
· Cultural Heritage (architectural and archaeological heritage);
· Climatic Factors;
· Material Assets;
· Tourism; and
· Traffic and noise.
- A distinction should be made between the impact (the action being taken) and
the effect (the change resulting from that action).
- The type of effect should be identified (e.g. positive/beneficial,
negative/adverse, direct, indirect, cumulative, short-, medium-, long-term,
- The assessment should identify all likely significant environmental
b. Identification of, and potential for impact and effect (e.g.
positive/beneficial, negative/adverse, direct, indirect, cumulative, short-,
medium-, long-term, permanent, temporary) upon, any Natura 2000 and/or other
sites with environmental designations;
c. Potential impacts in the construction phase and during on-going operation,
including in the event of any necessary repair to the installation;
d. Potential for imposing new limits on existing land use, both during the
construction phase and during on-going operation; and
e. Proposed mitigation measures, their effectiveness and cost.