Threat to more than 270 jobs and 36% of NI’s generating capacity delayed as a result of SONI ‘software issues’
Independent and rigorous analysis of Northern Ireland’s future electricity security needed after AES’ seeks closure of second Ballylumford generator
May 3rd: Joanne McWilliams, Regional Officer for Unite, the union representing the large majority of workers at the Kilroot Power station responded to the latest delay in the roll-out of the Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM). She highlighted growing concerns for Northern Ireland’s future security of supply as a result of the first all-Ireland electricity auction under which 36% of Northern Ireland’s domestic generating capacity will be eliminated with the loss of more than 270 jobs.
“The System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) has confirmed delays to its plans for the Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM) which was meant to ‘go live’ on May 23rd but will now start at the beginning of October. As a result AES, who owns both Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations where generating units were denied contracts to supply, will delay issuing protective notice to the workforce.
“This protracted delay is only the latest to affect the roll out of ISEM and highlights concerns held by Unite and local political representatives. SONI is claiming that this delay is due to unforeseen software difficulties but the entire process has been marked by a total lack of transparency. It is vital that SONI, owned by Eirgrid the state-owned grid manager in the Republic of Ireland, comes clean on the impact its proposals will have on Northern Ireland’s future electricity security.
“SONI’s decision to exclude both generators at Kilroot and one at Ballylumford from the all-Ireland ISEM market will result in approximately 270 job-losses and will eliminate 36% of Northern Ireland’s domestic electrical generating capacity. In the long-run it will leave us hugely reliant on a north-south interconnector which has yet to be built, a Moyle interconnector which is highly sporadic in its operation and totally dependent on external gas supply at a time of mounting geo-political insecurity.
“As a result of the impact of SONI’s ruling on the economics of its operation, AES is seeking a further derogation to bring forward closure of a second generator at Ballylumford. Given the fact that there were already concerns for the possibility of black-outs as a result of the first all-Ireland energy auction process, there are good grounds for an independent and rigorous examination of its impact. In the meantime, any threat to our members’ jobs at Kilroot and Ballylumford must be lifted”, Ms McWilliams said.