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Electricity market loss could have 'serious implications'

By John Mulgrew

Retaining the Single Electricity Market (SEM) for Northern Ireland and the Republic following Brexit is crucial to avoiding "serious implications for consumers" and compromising a major cross-border infrastructure scheme.

Since 2007, the island of Ireland has operated with a SEM, allowing free trade of power throughout Ireland. But there are concerns over what will happen to the system once the UK leaves the EU.

Now, a Westminster committee has said the Government should "seek to maintain ongoing access to the Internal Energy Market, and resolve the particular difficulties faced by Northern Ireland, as it shares a single electricity market with the Republic".

The report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: "The free trade of energy across the island of Ireland and efficient use of interconnection with Great Britain are of critical importance to Northern Ireland, which is reliant on imports from the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain for gas and power supply.

"Any disruption to the development of and trading within the Single Energy Market... may have serious implications for consumers across the island of Ireland."

And earlier this week, another report by Westminster's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee warned power bills are set to soar unless work begins now on a cross-border interconnector.

A planning application to build a new electricity interconnector between Co Tyrone and Co Meath is being considered by the Planning Appeals Commission in Northern Ireland.

The new report released yesterday warns that "disruption affecting the efficient supply of energy and future investment could have serious implications for consumers".

It added: "In particular, it could compromise a new interconnector between Northern Ireland and the Republic."

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