Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation challenges government paper on Energy Strategy

03 June 2003

The Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation has devoted its second full meeting to discussing the DETI Energy Strategy Consultation Paper.

Speaking on behalf of the Authority, Chairman Douglas McIldoon said:

“We welcome the opportunity given to us and all interested parties in Northern Ireland to participate in the formulation of an energy strategy for Northern Ireland. We intend to make a full response in due course to the DETI consultation paper.

“We agree broadly with the questions posed by the consultation paper and particularly welcome the Minister’s recognition that in the immediate future the emphasis must be on reducing energy costs. We are disappointed, however, at the lack of any coherent approach in the paper that would lead to lower costs and lower emissions.

“In the remaining weeks of the consultation period we believe public debate on energy should be tightly focussed on six key questions which, if satisfactorily answered, would produce both lower energy costs and environmental gain.

“The six key areas are:

Generation costs

What contractual and market structures changes would reduce generation costs now and sustainably in the future?

Energy Efficiency

The Energy White Paper’s overwhelming case for energy efficiency - which is ever more powerful in Northern Ireland - is insufficiently acknowledged.

What policy measure delivery mechanisms would be needed to meet a specified reduction in energy consumption across all energy users and not just the fuel poor? The Authority is disappointed by the enormous gap between aspirations in this area and the means to achieve them.

Gas Roll out

What are the economic, social and environmental benefits of gas roll out and what are the measures needed to maximise these gains?

Renewables

What is the least cost way in which Northern Ireland can secure a well balanced portfolio of renewable generation producing a significant proportion of its electricity requirements by 2012? The Authority believes that Northern Ireland’s success story in renewables must be built on in a way which minimises costs to customers. RoCs and Renewable Obligations as at present designed do not appear to do this.

Combined Heat & Power

What specific measures over and beyond those currently being promoted by Ofreg are necessary to secure a significant increase in cost effective CHP, especially domestic CHP?

Relations with neighbouring energy markets

What degree of integration is achievable with the electricity markets of Great Britain and the Irish Republic and what specific market arrangements will enable us to secure on a sustainable basis the lowest possible electricity cost for Northern Ireland’s customers?

The draft strategy does not properly recognise that the Northern Ireland electricity and gas markets will be partly integrated with the GB and Republic of Ireland markets. The strategy should consider the likely impact of such integration and should reach a view on how we can influence the specific market arrangements so as to secure on a sustainable basis the lowest possible energy costs for Northern Ireland’s customers.”

The Authority is urging all those interested in energy, whether as consumers or producers, to comment, firstly on the priorities for energy policy and secondly on the means of achieving them.

To access the relevant part of the DETI website to view the consultation paper click HERE.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Douglas McIldoon, please contact Nick Carson on 028 9127 5965 or 07711 482807