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Governments in drive for all-Ireland energy market

July 25, 2003 - "The Belfast News Letter"

The British and Irish governments have set up a joint steering group to drive forward efforts to establish an all-Ireland energy market.

The announcement came after a meeting between Northern Ireland Office Minister responsible for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Ian Pearson, and his southern counterpart Dermot Ahern, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

The ministers reviewed significant co-operative developments in recent years and Mr Pearson said that an integrated and more competitive all- island energy market could provide substantial economic and social benefits, notably in the areas of investment, planning, pricing and reliability of supply.

Looking to the future, the ministers said further progress was essential in the following areas:

  • cross-border trading in electricity;
  • electricity system interaction and integration; l an all- island gas network;
  • co-ordination of regulatory activities;
  • climate change, emissions and renewable energy;
  • energy efficiency policies.

They announced the establishment of the steering group to "maintain progress and ensure that developments in both jurisdictions complement the central goal of the mutually beneficial integrated system".

Senior officials from the minister's departments and the regulatory authorities on both side of the border will form the joint steering group, oversee a number of specific studies and report to the ministers at regular intervals.

Both ministers welcomed the Northern Ireland electricity industry's planned review of the implications of new trading arrangements in the Republic - due to be implemented by 2005 - and how the two markets might move closer.

Mr Pearson said: "An integrated electricity market requires common transmission planning and operation along with a co- ordinated wholesale market.

"This would require much closer integration of the two current transmission system operators.

"Both myself and Minister Ahern agree that policy developments in both jurisdictions need to be progressed in ways which did not prejudice the goal of improved economic and energy supply benefits for both parts of the island.