Some multinational companies lose out in data center decision

IDA told the government that some multinational companies suffered a “significant financial loss” due to the decision of the authority operating the national network to stop connections to the new data centres.

In July 2020, EirGrid halted facilities from being linked to Ireland’s electrical system toward the power regulator amid concerns about excessive energy demand.

In February of this year, a senior IDA official told the projects ministry that the policy adopted by the network operator “caused difficulties” for some data center investors.

The IDA representative said: “These investors made significant upfront investments (eg, in consultation, site acquisition, planning permission, etc.) .”

“They will be at a huge financial loss,” the official added.

The memorandum to RTÉ was issued by IDA under freedom of information.

A separate record shows that in March of this year, EirGrid told government officials at a meeting about data centers that it “could not accommodate” all of the network connection requests it was receiving.

Another record shows that the Ministry of Projects toned down a warning about requiring electricity customers to absorb the costs of investing in the national grid in an advisory document submitted to the energy regulator.

In a draft letter, the department said protecting customers from cost is “particularly important in the context of the current unprecedented price hikes we have seen this winter”.

“Increases in electricity bills through grid costs, as well as any perception of potential price volatility, are likely to undermine business confidence, tighten margins and discourage investment as companies factor in rising costs and cost uncertainty,” the note said.

The memo said that “any changes in the grid tariff structure, it is necessary to minimize the costs of the electricity grid, so that it reflects and stimulates the efficient use of the grid, and that Ireland, at least, does not lose its relative competitiveness in the European Union.”

“Indeed, it should be a clear and basic objective to improve relative competitiveness,” she added.

Read more: The emergence and emergence of data centers in Ireland

However, in the final version of the document, management said that network costs would be borne by customers and it was necessary to allow these costs to be distributed equitably between new and existing customers.

This morning, the Commission for Utilities Regulatory (CRU), which regulates the energy market, will appear before the Oireachtas Commission on Environment and Climate Action.

In its opening letter, CRU will outline the actions it is taking to help local energy customers struggling to pay the bills.

The regulator will also explain how it will operate through its supplier of last resort process for Panda Energy customers, which is leaving the market.

He will present figures for politicians showing that the level of arrears and disconnection among consumers has remained broadly stable so far this year despite significant price increases.

In the letter, the CRU will also say it is concerned about a gap in maritime safety regulations as Ireland prepares for a significant increase in investment in offshore wind turbines.

The regulator will warn that given the amount of wind energy and battery storage projects in the pipeline, more resources must be provided to An Bord Pleanála and local authorities.