The man responsible for keeping the lights on in Derry has warned the delivery of an integrated All-Island electricity market and second North South electricity interconnector prior to the retirement of some older fossil fuelled power plants in the early 2020s are essential if our future electricity supply is to be secured.
Robin McCormick, general manager of System Operator for Northern Ireland Ltd. (SONI), issued the warning during a briefing of the British House of Lord’s EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, during which he said the full impact of Brexit on our light switches is as yet unknown.
The committee heard how the North was facing into a unique situation in that it shared not just a land border but a Single Electricity Market (SEM) - established in 2007 - with another EU state.
Mr. McCormick explained how All-Island linkages are set to deepen further next May with the creation of a new Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM), which will further improve North/South connectivity.
“We are about to run a market trial so the May deadline for that...is an absolute critical business milestone for us,” he said.
He said the lack of a second interconnector was creating “traffic jams on the electricity motorways”.
“If we clear that it solves the market problem and it also solves the security of supply problem that is coming to fruition in the early 2020s where some of the generators in Northern Ireland are due to withdraw from the market because of emissions issues etc.”
He added: “We’ll have the ISEM up-and-running by May 2018 so the question is what impact does Brexit have on this new market arrangement.”