The Department's principal responsibilities with regard to energy are:
Responsibility for energy policy is divided into six functional areas: Chief Technical Advisor's Office, Electricity Corporate & Energy Planning, Electricity & Gas Regulation, Energy Efficiency & Affordability, Oil Security & Energy Corporate Governance, and the Renewable & Sustainable Energy Division.
Specific responsibilities include:
- Electricity and gas policy
- Electricityand gas regulation
- Energy efficiency
- Energy poverty
- Oil security
- Corporate governance of state energy companies
- North-south energy co-operation
- Energy research
Monitoring and MeasurementEast West Interconnector
Data and Report of the Expert Monitoring Panel on Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF) Emissions in relation to the East West Interconnector (EWIC)
The East / West Interconnector (EWIC) is a 500 MW direct current (DC) cable connection between the national transmission grid systems of Ireland and Britain. The East West Interconnector is a strategically vital energy project for the island of Ireland and is financially supported under the European Energy Programme for Recovery. It has enhanced national security of energy supply, will increase energy market competition and facilitate the progressive development of renewable energy. As strategic infrastructure, it received full planning permission from An Bord Pleanála and was commissioned in September 2012.
Arising from concerns where EWIC makes its Irish landfall, the Minister of Health requested the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to prepare a report on whether or not the electromagnetic fields (EMF) associated with the operation of the EWIC underground cable posed a risk to the health of people living close to the cable route. This report was completed in July 2012.
The CMO’s report concluded that there was no evidence that the EWIC operation posed a risk to health. It proposed that continuing reassurance could be offered to concerned citizens through a programme of monitoring of EMF and made suggestions as to how this might be implemented and overseen. Following consideration of this report and internal discussions, a set of actions was agreed.
In that regard, while responsibility for non-ionising radiation lies with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Minister Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, TD, agreed to the appointment of an independent expert panel. That panel was to consider and comment on data and report on Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) emissions in relation to the East West Interconnector (EWIC) electricity cables. The independent panel which was subsequently established is made up of three experts in their respective fields, one of whom, Dr. Harry Comber (appointed by Minister for Health) is an expert in epidemiology. Another, Mr. Kevin Gaughan (appointed by the Minster for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) is an electrical engineering expert. The third member of the independent panel, Professor Mark O’Malley (chosen jointly by both Ministers) is an acknowledged international expert in high-voltage electricity grid systems.
It was agreed that the three independent highly qualified experts would consider and comment on data and report on Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) emissions in relation to the East West Interconnector (EWIC) electricity cables, and that their findings would be published. The members of the panel met for the first time in November 2012 and their work programme is being progressed, with further meetings planned in 2013. The first sets of data, together with the panel’s commentary is set out below. Further data and commentary will be published as it becomes available.
The measurements provided to the panel related to a range of frequencies. The panel was satisfied that the magnetic field at all individual frequencies was well below the reference levels recommended in the ICNIRP guidelines for general public exposure to individual frequency components. However, the members decided that it should pass comment on simultaneous exposure to multiple frequencies, which requires calculations to be performed on a large number of data measurements. Accordingly, henceforth the data to be published with future reports will be presented in tabular form rather than graphical form, to enable those calculations to be performed by the panel.
Note on temporary phone interruption
As with any major, complex project using purpose-built technology, comprehensive testing is necessary in relation to the East West Interconnector. Tests in Autumn 2012 highlighted some issues with regard to localised incidents of noise interference with telephone lines. The start of commercial trading over the Interconnector was deferred until such time as the localised issues were resolved. Remedial works are continuing to resolve the problem. This temporary issue relates solely to noise on some telephone lines in the vicinity of the interconnector and is not a health concern.
EWIC Measurement Report
EWIC Expert Panel Commentary - Report #1