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    Customers urged to have their say on the future of NI’s electricity network


    October 3, 2022 - Belfast Newsletter

     

      The call comes as NIE Networks – the owner of the electricity transmission and distribution networks in Northern Ireland – launches a six-week consultation period on its proposed business plan for its next price control period from 2025 to 2031.

      Deemed critical to delivering the changes needed on the electricity network to facilitate the decarbonisation goals set out in the Department for the Economy’s Energy Strategy, NIE Networks’ proposed plan is intended to deliver transformational impact for its 900,000 customers across NI.

      The plan sets out how NIE Networks will facilitate a net zero carbon future, while providing a safe, resilient network and excellent level of service, but at the least possible cost.

      Managing director, Derek Hynes, said: “NIE Networks’ vision is to provide an electricity network that can facilitate NI’s overall plan to address climate change, aiming to achieve net zero carbon and affordable energy, by ending our society’s reliance on fossil fuels and its associated price volatility.

      “A step-change is needed in the level of investment in the electricity network required to facilitate the scale of decarbonisation that has now been mandated by government. Our aim is to strike a balanced position in our future plans, which seek to maximise the potential benefits from investing now and minimising the investments needed in the future to deliver a zero carbon economy.

      “Furthermore, a digitalised and flexible network will enable customers to make informed decisions on energy efficiency and opportunities for active participation in new markets. It is in this context that we are developing our next business plan for 2025 to 2031.”

      NIE Networks’ ‘A Future Network for All’ consultation document, outlines a series of investments that will be required to facilitate the scale of decarbonisation required.

      During the next business plan period a programme of network renewal will also be required to replace or update much of the original network, initially developed in the 1960s, in order to maintain reliability of supply.

      Mr Hynes continued: “We are embarking on the most significant change in the design, management and operation of the network since rural electrification in the 1960s. A net carbon zero future for NI will necessitate a much greater role and dependency on electricity in society, with the expected need for the rapid electrification of heat and transport a requirement.

      “Enabling this change will require development in the capacity of the existing network, alongside development to ensure adequate capacity for the increasingly diverse mix of renewables that will emerge over the coming decades as we reach net zero by 2050.”

      Mr Hynes explained that feedback will help inform the development of NIE Networks’ final proposals which are due for submission to the Utility Regulator in March 2023.

      “Our plan is designed to deliver meaningful outcomes for all customers and we are committed to reflecting the various priorities of domestic, business and agricultural customers,” he added.

      “Before we finalise these plans, however, we are urging all customers to give us their feedback on our current view of what this next business plan should deliver. All comments and input will be valued.”

      Customers wishing to respond email carl.hashim@nienetworks.co.uk and edel.creery@nienetworks.co.uk by Monday, November 7.

      READ MORE: £400 energy support ‘in November’

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