Belfast Telegraph

I’m fed up with connection problems on the electricity grid, fumes Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

The Enterprise Minister has expressed her frustration at continuing problems with the electricity grid.

Arlene Foster said she was "fed up" being fobbed off when raising issues about connection problems with Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE).

She told MLAs: "To be quite blunt, I am fed up with this merry-go-round that is going on in relation to grid connection.

"We have NIE saying that it is not their issue, it is a Soni (System Operator for Northern Ireland) issue. Soni will say it is a Regulator issue. The Regulator will try and pass it to somebody else. Frankly, it cannot go on."

Mrs Foster was speaking during Question Time at the Assembly. She said she had convened a summit in a bid to resolve the matter and issued a stern warning to any organisation that fails to co-operate.

"I have called a meeting of all of the parties involved to discuss these issues and to try to get to the bottom of these grid connection issues," added Mrs Foster.

"If we cannot deal with the matters around the table in a voluntary way, then I will have to look at other measures as to how we deal with this issue."

The electricity grid was built during the rural electrification of the 1960s and 1970s. It currently carries electricity from power stations and wind farms to around 840,000 meter boxes across Northern Ireland.

However in some areas, the grid has reached saturation point.

Decisions pending on future upgrade work are made by the Utility Regulator.

Earlier, Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale claimed connection difficulties were hampering the expansion of some renewable energy businesses in her area. She said: "They are being obstructed by NIE through a failure to deliver grid connection which they have already paid tens of thousands of pounds for, over 18 months ago."

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