The Northern Ireland Assembly has been dissolved. The election will take place on Thursday 5 May 2016.

'Lights Out' For Northern Ireland is a Real Possibility, Says Committee

Synopsis: The Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment today put forward a motion in the Assembly on its review into the security of electricity supply.

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 09 December 2013

Reference: ETI 06/13/14

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment today put forward a motion in the Assembly on its review into the security of electricity supply.

Security of electricity supply is about keeping the lights on during peaks and troughs in electricity demand throughout the North. The Committee's review focussed on the possibility of those demands not being met.

Speaking after the motion, Chairperson of the Committee, Patsy McGlone MLA said: "Security of electricity supply is about getting power to our homes and businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It would not be acceptable if generation were not available to meet our demand and electricity supply had to be switched off for periods. To ensure security of supply we have to make sure that there is sufficient electricity supply to cope with demand.

"The Committee's review found a number of things. We found that from the end of 2015 we may have a lower surplus margin, which is the amount of slack in the system. In effect, the result will be that, if any large generating plant were to have a prolonged fault after this time, there would not be enough electricity generated to cope with demand. We also found that many large businesses have standby generation capacity which could, conceivably, be fed into the grid during times of peak demand and this is currently not being utilised."

Mr McGlone concluded: "The Committee is making a number of recommendations based on these and other findings to the Utility Regulator, the electricity industry and Executive Ministers. These include exploring the use of existing cross-border standby connections and getting large businesses involved in assisting during times of peak demand. We also need an urgent decision on the proposed North-South Interconnector. The fact of the matter is, electricity is not getting any cheaper; therefore, if we are to pay the current prices, we have every right to insist on a reliable, efficient electricity service. I urge the appropriate authorities to heed the Committee's proposals and I look forward to following the progress on this issue in the future."

Watch Committee Chairperson Patsy McGlone outline the main findings of the Committee’s review:

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