Chamber President warns lights will go out if we don’t safeguard future energy supply

Pictured here is (L to R) Gavin Killeen, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Robin McCormick SONI General Manager and Leeanne Doherty, Derry City and Strabane District Council Economic Development Officer.
Pictured here is (L to R) Gavin Killeen, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Robin McCormick SONI General Manager and Leeanne Doherty, Derry City and Strabane District Council Economic Development Officer.

The President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce has warned there’s a real risk the lights will go out one day if there is continued pressure on the electricity network and our future supply is not properly planned and safeguarded.

Mr Killeen made the comments ahead of a timely ‘Powering Business in the North West’ conference, which will take place in the City Hotel on February 23.

The event is intended to highlight the myriad of issues around energy, including the lack of secure electricity supply in Northern Ireland and the impact that has on the economy in the North West.

The issue is all the more pressing after the EC Large Combustion Plants Directive took effect last year limiting electricity production by traditional power stations.

Mr Killeen said: “Energy is a very important issue for many businesses – the harsh reality of that was clear to see in the manufacturing sector in 2015 as the likes of Michelin proposed to close their doors. We take it for granted that when we turn the switch on, it works – if there is continued pressure on the network then one day it’s not going to work and the consequences could be dire.”

SONI General Manager Robin McCormick said: ”Progressing the North South Interconnector project is the only way to ensure security of supply and help reduce costs.

“The new interconnector will have a direct affect on businesses in the North West and for those companies that want to directly invest in the North West. One question that investors will be asking – is there a secure electricity supply? The much needed North South Interconnector is the only way to secure supplies at a price that represents value to consumers.”

Mr Killeen added: “Some of the facts around energy are startling – Northern Ireland consumer’s are paying circa £8m each year, for a back-up supply of electricity because the North South Interconnector isn’t up and running; my question is how does this affect our businesses and thus our economy in the North West?

“This project although 60 miles from the city is critical to our local economy and it will be the backbone for further investment in energy infrastructure in the North West. We need the project delivered as a matter of urgency. Growth of business in the North West must not be held back due to a lack of energy infrastructure.”

The event will be chaired by Brian McGrath, Chief Executive of Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners, who has already been on record stating that future growth will be reliant not only on modern infrastructure such as roads, but also having an electricity network to allow for industrial growth and development.

“If we want the economy in Northern Ireland and the North West to thrive, secure electricity supply is essential and the North South Interconnector will deliver this. I urge as many businesses as possible to attend the Chamber’s energy conference and understand why they need the North South Interconnector,” concluded SONI’s Robin McCormick.

For further information on the event visit www.londonderrychamber.co.uk.