Home Energy system Northern Ireland secretary says he is aware of energy market differences

Northern Ireland secretary says he is aware of energy market differences


The government is working to find a good solution to the “specific problem” of providing UK-wide energy support payments to consumers in Northern Ireland, the secretary of state said.

Chris Heaton-Harris said he was aware that the energy market in the region was very different from that in Britain.

On Wednesday, the government is expected to give more details on how state-funded mitigation measures against spiraling energy bills will be implemented in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Liz Truss (AP)

(PA wire)

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Liz Truss outlined plans for an “energy price guarantee”, with a pledge to cap average household bills at £2,500 for the next two years.

At the time, the government acknowledged that a different approach would be needed in Northern Ireland, but gave no details, other than a promise that a “similar” level of support will be offered to people in the region. .

The Northern Ireland market has its own regulator and does not have the energy price cap system that operates in the rest of the UK.

A higher percentage of households in the region depend on heating oil than other consumers in Britain.

The picture is potentially further complicated by the lack of a functioning devolved executive in Northern Ireland.

The DUP has blocked the formation of an executive in protest against Northern Ireland’s Brexit Protocol. Some ministers remain in office in fictitious format but they are limited in the decisions they can make.

On a visit to Belfast on Tuesday, Mr Heaton Harris said: ‘I know there is a specific market identity in Northern Ireland.

“On the first day I had only been at work for less than 12 hours, we had questions for me on the floor of the House and a lot of people commented that 68% of people here in Northern Ireland use fuel oil for their main source of heat.

“So we have a specific market and a specific problem and I’ve been working in government trying to find a good solution that works.”

Mr Heaton-Harris pointed out that some support payments have already been made to eligible recipients in Northern Ireland.

On Tuesday, £150 was to be paid to certain welfare claimants and pensioners.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons (AP)

(PA wire)

DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said Northern Ireland should be included in a UK-wide scheme.

“Some of those details are still being worked out, we clearly have a different way our energy system works here in Northern Ireland,” he told the PA news agency.

“But I’ve always believed that the best and fastest way to get money to people was directly through a UK-wide scheme and I think that’s what will happen. .”

Mr Lyons said he did not expect all the details to be confirmed this week.

“Well I think there will always be a bit of a teasing issue and that applies across the whole of the UK there will be a number of issues that will need to be addressed,” he said. he declares.

“And we’ll see a big picture of where we are. But I have made it clear in my conversations with UK government ministers that this support is essential and needs to happen as soon as possible, and I think we will see progress on this.

The government has also pledged to offer a £400 energy bill cut to residents of Northern Ireland.

There had been uncertainty over how the program, announced earlier this year, would roll out in the region without a functioning ministerial executive.

Last month the government said it would be delivered “as soon as possible”, but did not set a firm timetable.

At the time, Mr Lyons said he believed the program would be delivered in November as a one-off lump sum to energy companies.

On Tuesday, Mr Lyons said he was confident the timetable could still be met.

“I hope that will always be the case,” he said.

“Obviously the death of Her Majesty The Queen means that Parliament has not met for the past 10 days. Legislation will have to be brought forward for this scheme.

“But I still believe we’re on track to get that before the end of this year. But I’m hoping sooner, and I still think it’s possible for that to happen.