NI electricity upgrade 'approved'
A £44 million (€54 million) plan to upgrade Northern Ireland’s electricity network to allow more wind farms to connect to the grid has been provisionally approved by the Utility Regulator.
The works by Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) will result in an increase in the amount of renewable generation in the north and west of the region.
The investment package given the green light by regulator Shane Lynch will see £26 million of capital expenditure to increase the capacity of the Tamnamore sub-station in Co Tyrone, with £16 million invested in the construction of a new circuit between Omagh and Tamnamore.
Another £2.6 million will be spent upgrading the Kells-Coleraine electricity circuit.
The regulator will conduct a short public consultation before rubber-stamping the plans.
The developments will enable 1,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to be accommodated on the network.
Currently, 451 MW of wind generation is connected to the grid in Northern Ireland, with a further 550 MW having received planning permission.
NIE is increasing its network tariff to pay for the upgrade.
The tariff, which makes up a fifth of an electricity bill, is expected to increase by about 1.5 per cent for domestic consumers and about 5 per cent for the largest industrial consumers.
Mr Lynch said it was an important stage in the development of renewable generation in Northern Ireland.
“The overall investment is good news for Northern Ireland,” he said.
“It will be a major boost to the NI Executive’s target of 40 per cent of electricity demand being provided from renewable sources by 2020. We estimate that 1,000 MWs of wind on the system can provide 27% of electricity demand in 2020.
“The case made by NIE appears to represent good value for money. We will now conduct a short public consultation before finally giving the go-ahead to the projects.”