Energy crisis fears by 2019 without north-south interconnector
The proposed north-south interconnector must be in place by 2019 "if the lights are to stay on," the Utility Regulator has said.
Jenny Pyper spoke at the EirGrid Group conference in Belfast yesterday, where she said businesses and households would "pay dearly" if the interconnector is not put in place.
And she said it was a "myth" that building an underground inter-connector was a solution to the planning row surrounding the infrastructure. Campaigners against the line in border areas north and south have said it should be built underground.
Ms Pyper described the north-south interconnector as "the single most important energy issue".
She added: "What is clear is that the option of undergrounding the interconnector would not only jeopardise the expected delivery date of 2019 but it simply could not be delivered by 2021 when our electricity capacity margin becomes critical.
"We need to make a choice. Do consumers and businesses want the lights to stay on and as cheaply as possible? If so, the interconnector that is in planning is the only option," she stressed.
Robin McCormick, general manager at the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI), which runs the grid, said "politicians, business and the community need to grasp the critical need for the interconnector if Northern Ireland's lights are to stay on".
The north-south interconnector is a joint project between SONI and its equivalent in the Republic, EirGrid.
The overhead line would link the electricity networks in Northern Ireland and the Republic in a £204m capital investment, crossing Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan, Cavan and Meath.