Derry may have to rely on British electricity

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London has admitted a ‘no deal’ Brexit may mean the Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM) experts see as key to ensuring security of supply in Derry into the 2020s will not be able to continue.

The admission is contained in a new technical note produced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in England.

If, by next March, ‘no deal’ has been reached, the note warns: “The EU rules will cease to apply in NI leaving key elements of the Single Electricity Market (SEM) - trading with GB and cross-border governance arrangements - without any legal basis.”

This would be a serious problem for those responsible for keeping the lights on in Derry. From the late 2000s SONI and Eirgrid, the power grid operators North and South, have facilitated a cross-border market that’s ensured steady supply and competitive pricing.

Originally established in 2007 the SEM was replaced at the start of October by the ISEM that adheres to a new common EU ‘Target Model’ for cross-border trading.

But just two weeks after ISEM’s launch DBIS has said: “There is a risk that the SEM will be unable to continue, and the NI market would become separated from that of Ireland. Separate Ireland and NI markets will be less efficient, with potential effects for producers and consumers on both sides of the border.”

Derry may, thus, become reliant on British electricity.

“SONI may need to rely on fall-back arrangements to ensure power is able to flow over the GB-NI interconnector, in the absence of reliable rules for cross-border trading,” the notice warned.