Opened in 1958, the ESB Power Station at Arigna was the first major electricity generating station in Connaught. It was designed in Germany where the turbine and boiler installations were manufactured. The station was built specifically to burn Arigna’s semi-bituminous coal.
It was necessary to grind the coal very fine due to the high ash content, and a standard of 90% less than 200 meshes was adopted. The fines were blown into a boiler where it burned and converted water drawn from Lough Allen into steam. The steam powered the turbine to generate electricity. At peak production, the power station burned 55,000 tons of coal annually and employed 60 people directly.
However from the outset, one of the primary reasons behind its construction was to secure hundreds of jobs in the local coal mining industry.
By the 1970’s, 65% of the coal mined in Arigna was consumed at the generation plant. In the 1980’s Arigna’s supply of top grade coal was used up, and in 1990 the ESB closed down the power station. Investigations had been made into the possibility of building a new power station to use crow coal, but when these plans came to nothing the mines finally closed and a 400 hundred year old mining tradition in Arigna came to an end.