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Foster seeks Sustainable Energy future for Northern Ireland

Friday, 13 November 2009

We need to put Northern Ireland on the path to a secure and sustainable energy future.

That was the message from the Energy Minister, Arlene Foster when she addressed delegates at the seventh annual Northern Ireland Energy Conference, in Belfast today.

Arlene Foster said: “Global agreement will only work if action is taken at the local level. Climate change brings dangers but it also brings opportunities. If Northern Ireland is to prosper we will need to grasp those opportunities.”

The Minister said a 40% renewable electricity target, set out in the Strategic Energy Framework, had been received positively during the consultation process.

She added: “The cost of inaction on renewables now would lock us into potentially even higher costs over the long term. The era of low energy prices is over. It is likely that the costs of conventional energy generation will continue to rise.”

The Minister continued: “The Northern Ireland Executive will continue to encourage the use of renewable power, and work to bring the improvements in infrastructure needed to enhance security and diversity of energy supply and to support economic activity.

“The draft Strategic Energy Framework set out a challenging agenda and, working with all the stakeholders I believe we can make a start in putting Northern Ireland on a path to a secure and sustainable energy future.”

The Minister went on to comment on the Utility Regulator's inquiry in response to business community concerns on electricity bills.

She said: "I am acutely aware of the difficulties being experienced by large energy users as they are having to deal with significant increases in electricity costs. I look forward to the conclusion of the Utility Regulator’s inquiry and how it may provide some further insight into the communication and hedging strategies undertaken ."

Notes to editors:

  1. The consultation period for the draft Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland 2009, ended 30 September 2009. DETI is currently carrying out an analysis of the responses to the draft Strategic Energy Framework consultation with a view to producing a final document in early 2010.
  2. Copies of the consultation paper are available to download from the DETI website or a hard copy can be requested from: Mary Lavery, Energy Division, DETI, Massey Avenue, BELFAST, BT4 2JP, Tel: 028 905 29387 E-mail: Mary Lavery
  3. The current Strategic Energy Framework was produced in June 2004 (SEF 2004), and was written against a backdrop of small isolated energy markets, a limited choice of fuels, and the absence of exploited indigenous energy.
  4. The development of a new energy policy for Northern Ireland will take account of a global market of ever-increasing wholesale fuel prices, and stringent National and EU carbon reduction targets and security of energy supply.
  5. The Utility Regulator has announced an inquiry in response to the business community’s concerns on electricity costs.
  6. For media enquiries, please contact DETI Press Office on 028 9052 9297. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.