Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Tyre plant first in switch to gas

Northern Ireland's natural gas network has taken a significant step forward with the connecting up of the first commercial customer on the route of the north-west pipeline.

Northern Ireland's natural gas network has taken a significant step forward with the connecting up of the first commercial customer on the route of the north-west pipeline.

Supplies were officially switched on at Michelin's tyre plant in Ballymena yesterday.

The Raceview Road factory, which employs 1,100 people, has been connected by means of a spur to the main pipeline to Coolkeeragh near Londonderry.

Graham Whitehurst, the Michelin plant manager, said that switching to natural gas was one of several projects the company had embraced as part of its commitment to protection of the environment.

He said: "Michelin has always been conscious of its corporate social responsibility and respect for the environment is one of the company's five core values.

"This initiative will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time giving the company flexibility in terms of choice of energy suppliers."

The ceremony was organised by BGE (Northern Ireland), whose newly formed supply subsidiary Firmus Energy is marketing gas to potential customers along the route of the pipeline.

Firmus is targeting industrial, commercial and domestic customers in the 10 towns which will be served by the north-west and north/south pipelines.

Gerry Walsh, chief executive of BGE, said the supply to Michelin marked the launch of Firmus Energy in Northern Ireland.

"This is the beginning of the process to bring natural gas to thousands of new customers outside the greater Belfast area," he said.

"Our rollout programme will allow us to start connecting other commercial customers in Ballymena and the north-west over the next few weeks and further afield in the coming months and years."

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