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Plugging the gap

Last updated on 11/05/2016

The Energy Regulator has revealed more details about plans to make sure the lights don’t go out next January when US owned AES is forced to switch off 510 megawatts of capacity at its Ballylumford station in order to comply with EU rules on emissions.

The cost to homes of contracting in the extra capacity needed had already been indicated. It’s about £5 a year for the average household. But a joint paper from the Regulator and DETI released just before Christmas spells out just how the figure is arrived at. The levy imposed per kilowatt hour is just a tenth of a penny. For business the more relevant rate is the cost per megawatt hour and that’s a pound. 

The contract is with AES which is providing 250 megawatts through an upgrading of old plant at Ballylumford. It appears the kit being given a makeover is to be found among the 510 megawatts of capacity due to be switched off. The AES deal will last at least three years but can be extended for a further two. It’s worth just under £9m a year to the company.

But the effort to make sure the power continues to flow uninterrupted does not stop there. Mutual Energy, the not for profit company, which owns the Moyle Interconnector is to press head ahead to remedy the breakdown which has left it operating at half capacity. The installation of new cables should be completed by 2017. The cost which will be met by the company and consumers has not yet been determined.

The new North South Interconnector is considered to be essential for security of supply in the longer term. But it has still not cleared planning in either Northern Ireland or the Republic and will not be operational until at least 2019.

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