Nenagh town is on the brink of receiving a massive early Christmas boost with the announcement by Minister Alan Kelly that natural gas could be piped into the town by mid 2014, thereby saving an estimated E20-30 million within five years for businesses in the area.
Furthermore, Thurles and Roscrea could also benefit, according to the Minister who says that new pipeline will run along the old N7 route from Birdhill to Nenagh, should the Commission for Energy Regulation accept the project which will be submitted to them next week - sources indicate that such a proposal will be looked on favourably by the CER, The Tipperary Star understands.
The news is seen as being highly significant for Nenagh town and will give the area a major boost in terms of attracting industry. It is regarded as being one of the most significant announcements in Nenagh town in over forty years and has the potential to be huge. In fact, the key competitive advantage which the gas link would bring will help protect and substantially grow the current jobs base in the area, according to sources, who are looking forward to having natural gas - a cheaper form of energy - powering business, public buildings and schools immediately.
“I have been working on bringing gas to Nenagh since I first became a Minister in this Government in March last year. It was my number one project for the town as I know how important it is for it’s future. Gas provision would create a huge competitive advantage for Nenagh. Energy consumption and the cost of oil and other energy sources are now one of the largest, if not the largest, cost concerns for businesses and employers in Nenagh. Oil has become hugely expensive and its price is constantly fluctuating. Getting gas into Nenagh will protect jobs, create many more and bring inward investment. It is estimated that natural gas will save Nenagh business and public buildings/schools in the range of E20-30 million in energy costs in the first five years,” Minister Kelly told The Tipperary Star.
Arrabawn Co-Op’s Conor Ryan said that a considerable amout of expenditure is directed towards heavy fuel oil at the Co-Op which is one of the last remaining heavy processing plants in the country still using oil.
“Gas would be much more efficient, cleaner and of course economical and would mean that jobs can be consolidated and expansion facilitated. With the milk quotas going in 2015, we are anticipating a substantial increase in the in-take of milk and we will have to be able to deal with that in terms of processing. At the moment we are at a competitive disadvantage due to the cost of oil as opposed to natural gas which most other plants are using, and of course the cost of oil fluctuates greatly too. We have been talking to Bord Gais for years about getting natural gas and this is a very welcome announcement from our perspective,” said Mr Ryan whose plant employs upwards of 130 people drawn from the the locality and it’s hinterlands.
Describing a cheap and consistent form of energy as being the one major piece of infrastructure missing from Nenagh town, Minister Alan Kelly hoped that Nenagh will grow and expand in the same manner as Clonmel has done in recent times with the advent of natural gas.
“Gas will be important, not just for businesses in Nenagh, but also for domestic consumers who will have a chance to connect following on from the major businesses and save significantly on energy bills. Getting gas into Nenagh has been the singular most important project I have been working on for the town of Nenagh since I became a Minister in March last year. Initially I had a number of meetings with Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte and his officials. I then held a number of meetings with Arrabawn Co-op and its Chief Executive Conor Ryan, who have a key requirement for gas in order to grow and expand in Nenagh. He has been very supportive throughout. Following on from that I met with Gaslink who are responsible for selecting and connecting new towns to the gas network. They are an independent subsidiary of Bord Gais, who I have also spoken with on numerous occasions. I have had extensive discussions with County Council Manager Joe MacGrath, who has been centrally involved in the process from the beginning and has been magnificent, along with Nenagh Town Manager Marcus O’Connor and their staff,” said Minister Kelly who set up Nenagh’s Gas Committee last year to help drive the project forward.
Minister Kelly revealed that discussions with Gaslink primarily related to the viability of a gas line coming into the town. However, he says that he is confident that the plan is viable and he expects the project to be submitted to the Commission for Energy Regulation by Christmas week.
“The plan for the pipeline involves an upgrade of the current East Limerick pipeline that runs to Birdhill and serves Ballina and Killaloe. The pipeline will then be extended to Nenagh with the proposal to run it along the old N7 route. The pipeline will be comprehensive covering every artery in and out of the town and every street in the town. Nenagh will be the first town in North Tipperary to get gas if it’s successful. It will, by doing so, increase the potential and future viability of getting gas to other North Tipperary towns such as Roscrea and Thurles. I am now asking the people of Nenagh and surrounds to support this project as it will be the largest infrastructural development and investment in the town for many, many decades. A number of current and former public representatives who represented the North Tipperary tried to get gas to Nenagh before. It never happened. It’s now imminent. I’m asking the people of the town and surrounds for their support now,” Minister Kelly said.
The members of the Nenagh Gas Committee are Minister Alan Kelly TD; Joe McGrath County Manager NTCC; Marcus O’Connor Director of Services NTCC, Conor Ryan Arrabawn Co-op; Don O’Brien ABP Ireland; Donncha Haverty HKPB Scientific; John Conroy Proctor & Gamble; Matt Muller Abbey Court Hotel; and Clodagh Kavanagh Abbey Machinery.