Role of local suppliers ‘vital to discussions on energy strategy for Northern Ireland’

cllr billy ashe
Billy Ashe MBE.

Members of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council say it is vital existing local energy suppliers are placed at the heart of discussions on a long-term energy strategy for Northern Ireland.

Last November the Council welcomed the approval of a 12-month operating contract to Kilroot Power Station, which guaranteed at least another year of energy production on the site.

Council representatives, including elected members and officers, have been working closely with operators AES around the future of Kilroot and Ballylumford Power Stations following an announcement last year that they had failed to secure a supply contract for the Northern Ireland energy market.

Councillor Billy Ashe MBE, who is a member of a Council group set up to consider energy provision and supply, said: “Council continues to discuss the future options with Head of Energy Strategy Division in the Department for the Economy, Joe Reynolds, and it is crucial our existing businesses are at the heart of the consultation on an updated energy strategy for Northern Ireland over the coming years.

“We will also be meeting again with Jenny Pyper, the Utility Regulator, later this month to discuss the future of AES.

“The prospect of Kilroot Power Station winding down and reduction at the Ballylumford site was a bitter blow for the many workers and families affected, as well as all of the citizens of Mid and East Antrim and Northern Ireland.

“Since that announcement, we have continued to work closely with AES, the Utility Regulator and the Department for the Economy to explore any and all opportunities and to find a sustainable solution for our local area and Northern Ireland.

“It is absolutely vital we as a Council continue to lobby for our existing energy suppliers to play a key role in the consultation process ahead of the proposed creation of a new energy strategy for Northern Ireland, with the aim of securing longer-term contracts to supply the regional energy market.”

SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) recently published its provisional results of the capacity auction for the electricity market. Of the 28 Northern Ireland generators who offered into the auction, 26 were successful. Seventy-eight million pounds in capacity payments will be paid to these generators during the period October 2019 and September 2020.

Capacity payments are paid to generators to ensure they are available to meet the demand for electricity, especially at peak times.

SONI said it was confident that the generators who had been successful in the capacity auction will provide safe and secure generation at the lowest possible cost.

The auction was designed by the electricity regulators in Northern Ireland and the Republic to ensure sufficient supply is secured to meet demand across the island at all times.

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