The Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation
The Utility Regulator has statutory responsibility for the Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation (NIRO).
The NIRO is managed by the Utility Regulator although administered by our sister organisation OFGEM, via an agency services agreement between both parties. The reason for this modus operandi is cost and the maintenance of a seamless UK Renewable Obligation.
The April 2013 report covers the operational year 2011/12 and the running of the Renewables Obligation, which includes comparisons between Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England and Wales. The report can be found on Ofgem’s website - http://www.ofgem.gov.uk.
The Climate Change Levy Exemption Scheme
The Utility Regulator manages and administers the Climate Change Levy (CCL) scheme, issuing Levy Exemption Certificates to accredited generators in the island of Ireland. The CCL is a tax on energy used by businesses. It was announced in the March 1999 budget and implemented on 1 April 2001.
In relation to electricity, the CCL requires that suppliers charge commercial customers (i.e. business not domestic, governmental or charitable customers) an extra 0.524p per kWh (i.e £5.24 per MWh - rate from April 2013 ). These monies are then remitted to the government, where they are used to fund a national insurance contribution break and energy saving programs.
Electricity produced from designated renewable sources is exempt from CCL. It is issued with an exemption certificate (Levy Exemption Certificates or LECs) which can be bundled with the power when sold to a supplier. Good quality combined heat and power source electricty is no longer eligible for CCL LECs (From 1st April 2013).
Renewable Guarantees of Origin
The Utility Regulator also issues Renewable Guarantees of Origin Certificates (REGOs), via an agency services agreement with OFGEM. The REGOs are used for fuel mix disclosure purposes.
Fuel Mix Disclosure
Under Article 3(6) of the Electricity Directive (2003/54/EC), the Utility Regulator is required to ensure that all suppliers provide reliable information on bills and promotional materials sent to customers regarding the contribution of each energy source to their fuel mix and the associated environmental impacts over the relevant year.
The Utility Regulator publishes an annual report on fuel-mixes and CO2 emissions factors for suppliers licensed in Northern Ireland and operating in the SEM as calculated in accordance with SEM-09-081 Interim Arrangements: Fuel Mix Disclosure in the SEM.
Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (formerly the Energy Efficiency Levy)
Regulatory energy efficiency programmes have been running successfully in Northern Ireland since 1997/98 when the then Office for the Regulation of Electricity and Gas (now the Utility Regulator) introduced the Energy Efficiency Levy Programme (EEL).
As initially conceived, the EEL was introduced to implement energy efficiency schemes for domestic consumers with the aim of reducing carbon emissions. However, with the eradication of fuel poverty steadily moving up the ladder of government priorities, and as a result of a consultative process in Northern Ireland, it was decided that the majority of levy funding (80%) would be targeted at helping to alleviate fuel poverty by improving poorly heated and inadequately insulated properties. The remaining 20% is available for energy efficiency and emission reducing projects in the domestic and business sectors.
The Utility Regulator conducted a review of the EEL in August 2008 and published its decision paper in March 2009.
2009/10 was the last year of the EEL, as from 2010/11 it became known as the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP). The main features of the EEL remain but changes that were introduced included:
* allowing innovative and renewable technology schemes to be included in the bids for funding;
* opening up the right to bid to organisations other than licensed electricity suppliers (in a phased approach); and
* revising the target setting and incentives mechanism.