Pat Rabbitte has said that the public will have to pay higher electricity bills if pylons go underground
The extent of the escalating revolt against over ground pylons was revealed at a packed private meeting of Labour TD?s Senators and councillors.
More than 100 party members attended the packed private meeting, which sources claimed was the ?most passionate debate? in the entire conference.
In an acknowledgement of the groundswell of opposition, Mr Rabbitte told delegates the issue possessed the real potential to seriously damage the prospect of Labour candidates in the local elections.
He said he would ?do everything in his power? to avoid such a prospect.
Mr Rabbitte told the Sunday Independent he was getting ?a vast amount of advice on what not to do on the pylons issue but no-one is telling me what I should do?.
Earlier today, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said the public will pay higher electricity bills to put high voltage power lines underground, as demanded by many rural politicians.
Mr Rabbitte was speaking to reporters ahead of a showdown meeting with TDs, Senators and councillors this afternoon over the controversial pylon issue.
?If it were decided to put any part of the transmission underground, and it is possible to part underground or go overground as is the preferred option of Eirgrid, it has implications for the ESB bills, the electricity bills and energy bills of consumers,? he said.
?It will put up the cost of energy if a more expensive system of implementation is chosen and that is something as well the public and the consumers have to consider,? he added.
He has said the public will pay higher electricity bills to put high voltage power lines underground, as demanded by many rural politicians.
Mr Rabbitte said he and the Government have to be ?sensitive? to the concerns raised by local communities.
The minister said is not an issue for Government to select the routes.
?That is why Eirgrid is there. The issue for us in Government is whether we can afford the investment that would be required to put them underground. That is an issue that has to be examined in some considerable detail,? he said.
Mr Rabbitte again referenced a study conducted by Canadian and Scandinavian experts who said it would cost three times as much to put them underground.