Belfast Telegraph

Brexit deal must allow for the free movement of energy: power firm

By John Mulgrew

A Brexit deal must ensure there remains a continued supply of energy for Northern Ireland, the boss of one power company has said. Budget Energy has seen its pre-tax profits shoot up by more than 11% to £4.1m.

The Londonderry-based business, headed by Eleanor McEvoy, a judge on RTE's Dragons' Den, saw profits rise but turnover fall due to a reduction in electricity prices across the market as a whole.

In the year to June 2016, the company increased customer numbers by around 6,500. It now has 63,641 customers, according to the latest accounts for Budget Energy Limited.

Speaking about the impact of Brexit on the business, Ms McEvoy told the Belfast Telegraph: "They have to do some sort of deal that's doesn't infringe on trade. I just want to make sure that there is the guarantee of some sort of continued of supply of energy for Northern Ireland.

"What that looks like, I don't know. That is the ultimate aim. We are small, so we need freedom of movement of energy.

"We are linked to southern Ireland which pulls in the currency issue. No economy can function without access to electricity."

Ms McEvoy said the company's latest results reflected the market. "There is more competition in the market, and the consumer is the beneficiary. There is more pressure on pricing. It's been quite a satisfactory year, and we run a tight ship. We put investment back into the business, such as IT systems, to make sure we are robust enough, that our customers have a more interactive experience.

"It's a very interesting and exciting business. I think change is always welcome. I-SEM (the integrated single electricity market) will become a big game changer for us. It's a very interesting industry, and we are very grateful to the people who are supporting us, and those who help to build (the company).

"It's a lot of building on small industry. We are the supplier to Belfast International Airport. We also buy their excess green energy (from solar panels). That's a step in the right direction."

She said the year had "been good". "I'm excited about it, and it's such a great business.

"It's all about customer service and being straight on your proposition."

Budget Energy employs 64 staff, mostly based in Derry.

Speaking about the UK's vote to leave the EU, the firm in its strategic report says "we are monitoring the impact that Brexit may have on energy prices in Ireland through the Single Electricity Market (SEM)".

Belfast Telegraph