Protecting Northern Ireland’s energy and water consumers during the Covid-19 outbreak

20 March 2020

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During the Covid-19 outbreak our focus is on protecting the interests of consumers, particularly the most vulnerable.  

Working closely with other parts of government and industry we want to ensure that consumers receive a secure and reliable service during the period of the outbreak. We are also working with industry to make sure that there is no immediate risk to Northern Ireland’s electricity, gas or water supply during this period.  Ensuring that our markets work effectively in the interests of consumers is also key and we will continue to actively exercise our market monitoring role.

We are in regular contact with the Northern Ireland energy and water industry.  Over the last week we have carried out an assessment of the regulated companies’ business continuity arrangements and the steps they are taking to ensure they are prepared for the outbreak. This assessment has assured us that action is being taken by our utility companies to protect electricity, gas and water consumers.  It has also allowed us to identify some areas where further initiatives to protect consumers should be considered and we will be working with other parts of government and industry to take these forward immediately.

Regular communications with consumers during this period are crucial. We welcome the steps that regulated companies have already taken to communicate with their customers.  We will be regularly updating our website with useful information.  Further helpful advice can also be found in our consumer information section and on the Consumer Council's website.

While we will continue to operate throughout the outbreak we have reviewed our business continuity arrangements. This means that we will be prioritising business critical workstreams and have deferred non-critical meetings, travel and activity. Throughout this time, the safety of our staff and their families is paramount and we are making provision for remote working to minimise health risks.

The importance of ensuring that the staff working for our utility companies are also protected cannot be over-stated and we are re-assured by the plans these companies have put in place to minimise health risks.

It is likely that the outbreak will also have an impact on our organisational work programme. We also recognise that the focus of our utility companies at this time will also be rightly focused on prioritising the services that protect their customers, particularly the most vulnerable.

We will keep you updated on developments on the outbreak. In the meantime, if you have any questions or wish to get in touch you can email us on info@uregni.gov.uk