The Area Organiser (AO) makes preliminary contact with consumers, assessing local interest, distributing leaflets and discussing the general benefits of electricity.
Ireland is divided into 792 ‘rural areas’. These areas are typically 25 square miles in size and follow parish boundaries, with priority given to those considered to be most economically viable. Click here to view map.
The AO re-visits customers, providing more detailed information about wiring and appliances, and recording their acceptance or refusal of the scheme.
Survey and establishment
Routes are surveyed and pegged by a team of REO staff, under the supervision of the Rural Area Engineer (RAE). Budgets are drawn up, an area office is established, and accommodation is secured for travelling staff.
Poles are delivered (all the way from Finland!) and erected – a tough job made tougher in rocky, forested and uneven terrain in remote rural areas.
Wiring: inside and out
ESB wiring gangs set about stringing the line to connect the poles, while locals hire independent contractors to wire individual homes, farms and shops.
Transformers are delivered and mounted, and individual houses are connected to the grid.
However, the official ‘switch on’ ceremony will be held at a later date, when the majority of the area has been connected.
The switch on ceremony is the highlight of rural electrification in each area, attended by local dignitaries, clergy and the press.
A local hall is hired or an open-air venue chosen to hold demonstrations, in joint effort between the AO and an REO Demonstrator.
The AO also arranges a display of electrical appliances in a local showroom or shop window. In Blackwater, Co. Wexford, a vacant shop was eagerly grasped for this purpose.
Keep it moving
The RAE ensures that the whole process – individual connections, switch-on ceremonies and the delivery of appliances – is completed ASAP, fostering local need to ‘keep up’ with the neighbours.
After the official switch on, ESB mobilises its fleet to focus on the establishment of electrical shops, the sale of appliances and the maintenance of the system.
The first phase of rural electrification ran from 1946-1965, bringing electricity to 81% of rural Ireland. After 1965, work continued to connect the last remaining areas to the national grid, with 99% connection by 1975. The last area to receive electricity was remote Blackvalley, Co. Kerry, in 1978.
Network Renewal Plan (NRP)
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, ESB rolled out its Network Renewal Plan (NRP), upgrading and extending the electricity supply to meet the demands of modern Ireland.
NRP built on the foundations laid by the Rural Electrification Scheme 50 years before, bringing the scheme into the twenty-first century.