Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has welcomed an agreement to retain electricity generation at Kilroot Power Station for the next 12 months.
In a statement, Mr. Beggs, who has highlighted concerns about the stability of Northern Ireland’s electricity supply, said: “The systems support services agreement as a result of discussions by the Utilities Regulator, SONI and AES is good for the stability of our electricity supply yet, I am that aware that downward pressures have been applied to Kilroot’s generating costs, which will benefiting consumers. This seems like a sensible solution for Northern Ireland.
“n the absence of planning approval for the north/south Inter-connector and alternative new generating capacity, there would be risks to the security of supply over the next few years.
“Brexit has added further uncertainty to the single electricity market. I welcome this rethink by the Utilities Regulator and SONI who have recognised the risks to the stability of the Northern Ireland electricity supply, if Kilroot’s 500MW turbines were to permanently close. These tough negotiations took much longer than I had expected.
“This arrangement should provide increased competition in next year capacity auction and perhaps additional competition during the tendering process for a new additional generator.”
“The ageing Ballylumford B station turbines were originally due for closure on Dec 31 2015. They had continued to provide generating capacity for the past three years, but now their turbines will finally stop turning leaving only the CCGT Station generating electricity at Ballylumford.
“The workers and families affected will be devastated at the loss of employment. I have already spoken to the AES and urged that this smaller reduction in employment would be managed using a voluntary redundancy process. I would hope that it can be managed without a compulsory redundancy system that had originally been feared.
“Local rate payers had also faced a large increase in rates, had Kilroot closed. This new arrangement with the loss of some local rates, will be much less that had been expected and so will also be better for local ratepayers.”