The company which operates the flow of electricity on the national grid has said the all-time record peak demand for supply, dating back to 2010, has been broken twice in the last seven days. 

Eirgrid said the final shut-down today of the first of two peat-burning power stations in the Midlands has been factored into their projections for supply and demand in 2021.

But the company has warned of the risk of electricity deficit situations arising in the coming months.

When the wind is not blowing, renewable generation of electricity is at a low output and if sufficient support is not available from the UK across the inter-connectors, Ireland's national grid is vulnerable.

Earlier this week technical faults at three power stations led to an amber alert being issued by Eirgrid during a period of record peak demand.

The ESB's west Offaly power station at Shannonbridge shuts down its production after 52 years today and that will be followed followed by Lough Ree Power station next Friday.

But Eirgrid said the risks posed by the growing level of generator-forced outages in other stations remains high.

Political representatives in the Midlands say the two stations should be kept on standby, however ESB Networks said that is not an option under planning and licencing laws.

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Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett said it is a sad day for people in the Midlands.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Green Party senator said Bord na Móna has been "incredibly good" to people and workers in the region, but "the future has to be bright. We have to look for new opportunities, which is what we are doing and regenerate the Midlands and the towns that have fallen by the wayside."

Independent TD for Galway-Roscommon Denis Naughten said "an open and frank debate" needs to happen on the two power plants in Shannonbridge, Co Offaly and Lanesborough in Co Longford.

He called on Minister Hackett to redouble efforts to support agriculture and employment across the region. 

"The reality is that if we were able to convert these two power plants to 100% locally sourced biomass, it would reduce carbon emissions on the farms around the area by 600,000 tonnes, which would be the equivalent of taking 130,000 cars off our roads as well as providing 4,000 seasonal jobs and giving  an income to farmers of approximately €465 a hectare," he said.

Ms Hackett said to convert two more power stations to biomass is just not feasible.

When asked if Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen's proposal to transfer the plants from the ESB to the local authority and for there to be an open tender competition for future usage that would benefit the region, she said they would consider all suggestions. 

She said the two power stations at Shannonbridge and Lanesborough have to be closed as the burning of peat is not only "inefficient" but expensive and one of the most polluting forms of energy. 

She also said the burning of peat provides "a tiny percentage of our overall energy supply" stating we can do much better for these communities and the workers.

Ms Hackett added that energy transition is an investment transition and accused Mr Naughten of "wanting to bring us back to the 1930s."