Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs, who had repeatedly highlighted concerns about the stability of Northern Ireland’s Electricity supply should Kilroot’s turbines stop generating, has welcomed the agreement retaining electricity generation at Kilroot Power Station:
The East Antrim MLA said:
“The Sytems Support Services Agreement finalised by the Utilities Regulator, SONI and AES is good for the stability of our electricity supply yet, I am that aware that downward pressures have been applied to Kilroot’s generating costs, benefiting consumers. This seems like a sensible solution.
“In the absence of planning approval for the North/South Interconnector, and alternative new generating capacity, there would be serious risks to the security of supply over the next few years. BREXIT has added further uncertainty to the Integrated Singled Electricity Market. I welcome this rethink by the Utilities Regulator and SONI who have recognised the risks to the stability of the NI Electricity supply, if Kilroot’s 500MW turbines were to permanently close. These tough negotiations took much longer than I had expected.
“This arrangement should ensure greater competition at the next capacity auction, and perhaps additional competition during the T-4 tendering process for a new additional generator.”
The aging Ballylumford B station turbines were originally due for closure on 31 December 2015. They had continued to provide generating capacity for a further 3 years, but it now appears that their turbines will now finally stop turning leaving only the CCGT Station generating electricity at Ballylumford.
Roy Beggs MLA added: “This news was not entirely unexpected, but it will still be a major concern to those at the Ballylumford site. I have already spoken to the AES and urged that this smaller reduction in employment should absolutely be managed using a voluntary redundancy process. I would hope that it can be managed without a compulsory redundancy system that had originally been feared.
“Local rate payers had also faced a large increase in rates, had Kilroot closed. This new arrangement with the loss of some local rates, will be much less that had been expected and so will also be better for local ratepayers.”
Over the past year Roy Beggs, along with South Antrim MLA Steve Aiken, have had numerous meetings with senior staff in the Department of the Economy, the Utility Regulator and SONI expressing concern at the risk to the Northern Ireland electricity supply were Kilroot to close.