Belfast Telegraph

Commons committee relaunches energy probe amid Kilroot closure

By Margaret Canning

A House of Commons committee is renewing a probe into Northern Ireland's energy sector after a string of announcements affecting electricity generation.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said it would investigate developments including the implications for energy provision following the closure of Kilroot power station.

And it will also consider the obstacles which may remain for the construction of the North-South Interconnector, a piece of cross-border infrastructure tipped to improve security of supply.

The committee announced its latest energy investigation as former ESB chief executive Padraig McManus, whose tenure at the head of the Irish energy company included its takeover of NIE in 2010, addressed a leadership event at Ulster University.

Last year the committee, which has 12 members including Northern Ireland MPs Lady Sylvia Hermon and Ian Paisley, warned that the "lights could go out" in Northern Ireland if the interconnector did not get the go-ahead.

But the Department for Infrastructure last month announced it would give permission for the Northern Ireland side of the pylons, which will cross from Co Tyrone into Co Meath.

The committee said: "In a report last year, the committee warned of the grave risk of an energy deficit, and higher energy prices, in Northern Ireland if action wasn't taken to increase supply by building new power stations or improving interconnection with Ireland. The likely reduction of capacity at Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations raises further questions about the medium and long-term energy strategy for Northern Ireland."

The committee said it was inviting written evidence on the effects of the Integrated Single Energy Market (I-SEM), the obstacles which remain for the construction of the interconnector and the implications of the collapse of the Executive on Northern Ireland's "pressing energy needs".

It also wishes to investigate how further energy integration of the Republic with the EU will affect energy integration with Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Padraig McManus, president of the Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland (ESRI) and former ESB chief, addressed the leadership talk hosted by accountancy firm PKF-FPM at Ulster University's Belfast campus yesterday.

Mr McManus was ESB chief executive for nearly 10 years.

He was also chairman of Eircom Holdings from 2012 to 2017 and chairman of mining equipment manufacturer Mincon Group.

Feargal McCormack, PKF-FPM Accountants managing director, said: "Padraig has shared his business experience and expertise most generously in supporting many organisations and individuals across Ireland, and as such is a significant role model for our own existing and aspiring business leaders.

"It has been most inspiring to hear his story today and to get some insight into the approach of a great leader."

Belfast Telegraph

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