Jo Aston joins SONI as MD

New SONI MD Jo Aston
New SONI MD Jo Aston

Northern Ireland’s independent electricity transmission operator SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) welcomes the arrival of Jo Aston as its new Managing Director.

Ms. Aston joins SONI from the Utility Regulator, where she most recently served as Director of Wholesale Energy Regulation for more than five years.

In this role, she was responsible for the regulation of the Single Electricity Market (SEM) on the island, in partnership with the electricity regulator in the Republic of Ireland.

SONI has come under scrutiny recently for the role which its Irish government-owned parent company, Eirgrid, plays in its affairs.

Last month staff came to the brink of strike action before the company made a last-minute pay offer.

A confidential survey of staff, obtained by the News Letter, revealed an overwhelming belief that Eirgrid’s takeover has been bad for electricity consumers in Northern Ireland.

Last year Ms Aston led a fundamental redesign of the Single Electricity Market, involving the introduction of new arrangements to increase both competition and downward pressure on prices.

“I am delighted to join the impressive team at SONI as the new managing director,” she said.

“This is a period of rapid transition for the energy sector across Northern Ireland and SONI is playing a pivotal role as we move to a low-carbon economy.”

EirGrid Group CEO Mark Foley said: “Jo’s experience spans all aspects of the utility business, from managing a team of professional designers and directing a large operational workforce, to overseeing the development of public private partnerships.

“Jo understands the critical role that SONI plays in developing, operating and managing the Northern Irish power system.

“I am confident she will ensure that SONI continues to deliver benefits to businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland.”