Johnson seeks Stormont veto for all-Ireland electricity market

Proposal part of British prime minister’s Brexit deal proposals

Electricity networks on both sides of the Border integrated in 2007 to create a single wholesale market. Photograph: iStock

Electricity networks on both sides of the Border integrated in 2007 to create a single wholesale market. Photograph: iStock

 

UK prime minister Boris Johnson wants the all-Ireland electricity market subject to a Stormont veto in his Brexit deal proposals.

Electricity networks on both sides of the Border integrated in 2007 to create a single wholesale market, while the State’s national grid manager, Eirgrid, owns the North’s equivalent body, System Operator Northern Ireland.

However, Mr Johnson wants the single electricity market subject to approval by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly as part of his alternative solution to the backstop, the mechanism meant to prevent a hard border following Brexit.

The British prime minister wrote to Jean-Claude Juncker this week proposing an all-Ireland regulatory zone for all goods to avoid checks at the Border.

Mr Johnson says that this must get consent from the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly before a transition period and every four years afterwards, as it involves “part of the UK” accepting another political entity’s rules.

“If consent is not secured the arrangements will lapse. The same should apply to the single electricity market, which raises the same principles,” he said.

Cross-party support

The single electricity market has cross-party support in Northern Ireland, including the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party leader, Arlene Foster.

Utilities Regulator Northern Ireland and the Republic’s Commission for the Regulation of Utilities supervise the market.

Eirgrid recently confirmed that the single electricity market would continue to operate on an all-Ireland basis should the UK leave the EU without a deal at the end of the month.

However, the State body noted that a hard Brexit could affect how electricity is traded between Ireland and Britain.