|Type||Public limited company|
|Founded||7 February 2001|
|Key people||Fintan Slye (Chief Executive)
Bernie Gray (Chairperson)
|Services||Electric power transmission
Electricity market operator
EirGrid plc is the state-owned electric power transmission operator in Ireland. It is a public limited company registered under the Companies Acts; its shares are held by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources who appoints the board and the Minister for Finance. It is one of a number of Irish state-sponsored bodies and is regulated by the Commission for Energy Regulation.
EirGrid was established under Irish and European laws including the European Communities (Internal Market in Electricity) Regulations, 2000, to enable competition in the Irish power sector. It took over operation of the national power system on July 1, 2006. While ESB (the Electricity Supply Board) currently holds ownership of the physical assets, a government white paper on energy policy proposes transferring ownership of the transmission assets to EirGrid in order to encourage competition and benefit consumers. This has been backed up in a commitment by the previous government's Framework for Economic Recovery and a statement by Eamon Ryan, the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, that he was establishing a process for this transfer.
The transmission assets constitute 6,500 km of overhead line and underground cable, as well as over 100 bulk substations. The system's significance for competition is that most large independent generators connect to the transmission system and utilise it to transport their power to all regions. EirGrid also operates the wholesale power market.
In October 2008, EirGrid launched a long-term strategy for developing the transmission system, entitled Grid25. The strategy proposes doubling the capacity of the transmission grid, to support economic growth, integrating more renewable energy and regional development. It will comprise an investment of €4 billion. On 22 August 2008, EirGrid agreed to buy System Operator Northern Ireland. This was finalised in Spring 2009, following regulatory approval by the Irish Government, the British Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.
EirGrid announced in April 2010 that a proposal called "Grid 25" would enable it to create an additional 300 jobs in Ireland. In September 2012  Eirgrid completed the 500 MW East–West Interconnector submarine cable between Ireland and Britain.
EirGrid's primary purposes are the daily management of the Irish national grid, the operation of the wholesale power market, and the development of high voltage infrastructure to serve Ireland's economy. The high voltage transmission system has been likened to "motorways for power" or "broadband power" providing electricity in high quality and in bulk to all regions. Transmission is seen as a key factor in facilitating inward investment by bodies like the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and the development body Forfas. It is also seen as critical to increased renewable energy by organisations like Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA). EirGrid is currently developing a large number of major transmission projects. It is working with the regulator in line with Irish Government policy to develop a second major transmission line to Northern Ireland and a 500 MW East West Interconnector linking the Irish power system to Great Britain. EirGrid will own that interconnector after it is developed, under the Irish Government decision.
EirGrid has its own separate board and is regulated by the Commission for Energy Regulation (the C.E.R.) and its shares are held by the Irish Government. EirGrid is responsible for balancing electricity consumption and generation, for the safe, secure and economical operation of the power system, and for the planning and development of the Irish power grid. Under the Single Electricity Market, EirGrid operates the wholesale power market on the island of Ireland with System Operator of Northern Ireland (SONI), which it now owns. More information on the functions of EirGrid, along with graphs of electricity demand/wind generation output updated every 15 minutes, are available on its website. Information on the Single Electricity Market Operator (SEMO) is also at that website.
In May 2010, EirGrid launched an advertising campaign aimed at communicating the need for an upgrade to the national grid and the need for public understanding and support for electricity infrastructure. The advertisement featured company staff speaking about the need to develop transmission infrastructure to provide supplies to customers, to support jobs and to bring on more renewable energy. The advertising campaign received negative coverage in one newspaper article. The article was based around the fact that there is only one national grid in Ireland, and that EirGrid has no competitors. EirGrid reacted by saying that the advertisements were made in order to raise awareness of the company among the Irish public, and without such awareness, the Grid25 project could fail.
- Dempsey Outlines A New Energy Future for Ireland - Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources | An Roinn Cumarsáide, Mara agus í
- "Eirgrid completes purchase of NIE's SONI". EnviroSolutions. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
- Grid 25
- RTE article
- "Commercial Operation of East West Interconnector Update". Eirgrid. Retrieved 2012-12-20.
- "East West Interconnector". ABB. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
- "Project Activity". East-West Interconnector. EirGrid. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
- "EirGrid defends €600,000 publicity campaign". Brennan, M. and Noonan, L. Irish Independent. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-23.