Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (323)

Ciara Conway


323. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to whom EirGrid is responsible; the way this structure operates in practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14951/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

EirGrid plc is a state-owned commercial company which was created in July 2006, providing transmission and market services for electricity consumers. The shareholders of the company are the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. As one of a number of corporate entities operating under the remit of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the company is subject to the highest standards of corporate governance, and is compliant with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies issued by the Department of Finance. EirGrid Directors are appointed by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The Chairperson, Mr. John O'Connor, was appointed on 12 November 2013 for a term of five years. Corporate governance and policy oversight of EirGrid is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and the company engages in ongoing dialogue with the Department to ensure alignment of its corporate strategies and plans with Government and European policy.

The company delivers services to customers, including generators, suppliers and consumers across the high voltage electricity system and via the wholesale power market.

EirGrid holds licences as independent electricity Transmission System Operator (TSO) and Market Operator (MO) in the wholesale trading system in Ireland, and is the owner of System Operator Northern Ireland (SONI Ltd), which is the licensed TSO and market operator in Northern Ireland.

SONI Ltd has the responsibility of ensuring the safe, secure and economic operation of the high voltage electricity system in Northern Ireland. It is regulated by the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR).

The Single Electricity Market Operator (SEMO) is part of the EirGrid Group, and operates the Single Electricity Market on the island of Ireland. In its role as TSO in Ireland, EirGrid operates and maintains the transmission system, as well as developing key infrastructural projects for the socio-economic development of the State, supporting competition in energy, ensuring security of supply, facilitating more renewable energy, and providing essential services. EirGrid owns and operates the East-West Interconnector (EWIC) linking the electricity grids in Ireland and Great Britain.

EirGrid is regulated by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which decides on allowed revenues/charges for the electricity transmission and distribution systems with the aim of delivering value for money for the end customer. The CER also approves network connection policy and resolves disputes that users may have with respect to connection to and use of the networks. EirGrid's activities in respect of Northern Ireland are regulated by the Utility Regulator Northern Ireland and the UK Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem). In addition to working collaboratively with the company's shareholding Ministers and their respective departments, EirGrid also co-operates closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland.