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Brexit 'unlikely to affect electricity supply to Northern Ireland'

Published 18/04/2016

The Utility Regulator said withdrawal from the EU was unlikely to derail the programme to create a single energy market across Ireland by next year
The Utility Regulator said withdrawal from the EU was unlikely to derail the programme to create a single energy market across Ireland by next year

The electricity supply to Northern Ireland should not be affected by a Brexit, the Utility Regulator said.

The body which helps set prices and protects consumers said withdrawal from the EU was unlikely to derail the programme to create a single energy market across the island of Ireland by next year.

Measures to improve the working of the wholesale market would need to be taken irrespective of whether or not European legislation had to be considered, according to chief executive Jenny Pyper.

She said: "In principle there is no reason why wholesale electricity flows between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland or between either part of the island and the UK mainland should be affected by Brexit."

Ms Pyper wrote to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs, which is examining the impact of a Brexit on Northern Ireland.

She said steps like improving energy trading arrangements and the use of interconnectors would still need to be taken.

"In the case of a UK decision to leave the EU, and the potential lengthy negotiations that would ensue (some commentators have said that this may take up to two years), it is unlikely that this would significantly impact on the programme to implement the 1-SEM (Single Energy Market) by 2017."

She said the success of the single market depended on unrelated matters. Those included the construction of a second north-south interconnector to maximise use of renewable energy and improve efficiency as well as ensuring security of supply.

She added: "We also believe that it is likely that there would however need to be some agreement on wholesale energy market arrangements between Great Britain and the EU following a Brexit, as there is interconnection between UK and mainland Europe as well as with Ireland.

"However, there is no way of knowing at this stage what the outcome of such negotiations would be. Maintaining a competitive Great Britain market and ensuring security of supply would be key concerns."

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