Beggs expresses concern for the security of electricity supply in NI

Roy Beggs MLA has expressed his concern for the security of electricity supply in NI following the news that the two main Kilroot Power Station electricity generation turbines which can generate some 514MW of electricity have been unsuccessful in the bidding process for electricity generation.

Roy Beggs MLA said, “When I examine the Eridgrid 2017-2026 Electricity Capacity statement and then learn of the outcome of the bidding process I have significant concerns about our security of Electricity Supply going forward.

I have recently met with the Utility Regulator and the Department of the Economy to express my concerns and again call on SONI and the Utility Regulator reassess this outcome that would leave a question mark over the security of NI electricity supply.

“With the highest electricity demand typically occurring on a calm, frosty winters day when the significant renewable wind generation will be unavailable, a major fault on the Moyle Interconnector or in the remaining gas generating plant could now result in power blackouts in NI.

Without Kilroot’s Coal fired plant availability, there will be even more dependence on the North Channel gas pipeline feeding most electricity generators in NI. Recently a fracture in a North Sea gas pipeline resulted in the pipeline closure for many days. Without significant diversity in power generation and limited inter-connectors NI electricity consumers will left at increased risk of interruption.

In the past few days the additional North/South Interconnector has gained planning approval. But it will be some 3 years before it will be operational.

The Eridgrid 2017-2026 Electricity Capacity statement states:

“4.2(b) … Because of Notified plant closures and restrictions, there is a deficit of plant by 2021.”
This is referring to the planned closure of Kilroot power station as a result of environmental restrictions.

The statement then goes on to say:

“Without the second North South Interconnector, not enough of the surplus in Ireland can be shared to alleviate the security of supply concerns in Northern Ireland”

This new process has resulted in the closure of Kilroot Coal fired generation some 3 years earlier than expected and will therefore leave NI with the same “security of supply concerns” as indicated in the market study, without the second North South Interconnector in place.

SONI and the Regulator need to answer what will be the level of increased risk of interruption of our electricity supply and is it right to gamble with our critical electricity supply before alternatives such as the additional inter connector are in place?

Such a dramatic and unexpected closure will be devastating to the hundreds of AES employees, sub-contractor and their families. The loss of such a significant local employer may also have rates implications.”

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