Belfast Telegraph

Company Report: SONI

By John Simpson

SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) Ltd is the licensed transmission system operator for electricity in Northern Ireland.

The company is also the joint operator, along with EirGrid plc of the Single Electricity Market organisation, covering the operational arrangements for the all-island system.

SONI is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of EirGrid UK Ltd which is, in turn, a subsidiary of EirGrid plc, registered in Dublin.

The main operations of SONI fall within the remit of the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator. Separate regulatory accounts are submitted which give details of any over or under payments within the regulatory authority. The accounts summarised here are the trading accounts to meet the requirements of a normal company.

In a more recent regulatory change, SONI now has responsibility for the planning of the main electricity transmission system. NIE owns and manages the transmission system.

The annual report and accounts prepared by SONI point to a significant increase in annual revenue of nearly 50% in the last two years mostly earned from ‘use of system’ charges which have been approved by the Regulator.

The report shows considerable variations in the level of operating profits moving from an operating loss of over £3m in 2012 to a sizeable profit of over £16m in 2013.

When the operating profit figures are adjusted for over- and under-recoveries, the pro-forma operating profit in 2013 is adjusted to £6.6m.

Over-recoveries of £10.2m are acknowledged. The comparable adjustments in 2012 show an operating profit (instead of a loss) of £6.3m. The reason for the large variation in allowed recoveries of revenue is not detailed.

SONI is also permitted to recover the costs of constraints on the functioning of the Single Electricity Market but these are not detailed in the accounts.

Reflecting the widening responsibilities allocated to SONI, the average number of employees has increased from 90 in 2011 to 112 in 2013.

For some employees the organisation operates a defined benefit pension scheme which has assets of over £22m and was carrying a net deficit of just under £1m at the end of last September.

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