Magherafelt-based firm set to host large business forum

Ann McGregor (Chief Executive of NI Chamber) and Natasha Sayee (Head of Public Affairs at SONI) launch the Energy Forum - a new initiative aimed at providing a bridge between energy providers and large energy users in Northern Ireland
Ann McGregor (Chief Executive of NI Chamber) and Natasha Sayee (Head of Public Affairs at SONI) launch the Energy Forum - a new initiative aimed at providing a bridge between energy providers and large energy users in Northern Ireland

Local manufacturer Bloc Blinds will host over 50 members of the business community at an event in Magherafelt later this month.

The event is part of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s latest ‘Energy Forum’ initiative aimed at providing a bridge between energy providers and large energy users in Northern Ireland.

Taking place on Tuesday 22 November 2016 from 2.30-5.00pm at Bloc Blind’s Station Road facility, the event will feature a presentation form the Department for the Economy on its energy vision for Northern Ireland to 2020 and beyond and will be followed by a briefing on the North/South Interconnector project from Robin McCormick, General Manager at the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI).

Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said: “Energy costs are frequently cited by our members as one of the biggest barriers to business growth. This is a real challenge to our competitiveness and needs both government and the private sector to work together to address.

“The Energy Forum therefore seeks to share best practice on energy efficiency and to inform businesses of significant changes ahead, including securing critical planning permission for the North/South Interconnector and I-SEM (Integrated Single Electricity Market), which will change the way electricity is traded and generating capacity managed.”

A number of businesses in the area have already expressed their support for the North South Interconnector project including construction group the Henry Brothers.

David Henry, Managing Director of the Henry Brothers, said:“For us electricity supply is everything – we don’t have back-up generators to cover every part of the business. Having security of supply and knowing there is sufficient capacity in the network is essential to us.

“We run machines through the day pouring concrete and then they heat during the night so if the power supply went down it would be critical. The North South Interconnector needs to be put in place as soon as possible. It was already supposed to have been completed in 2017 – the longer it is not in place, the more risk there is to businesses being able to operate if something happens.”

The forum is held in partnership with SONI, the licensed independent electricity Transmission System Operator (TSO) and, in conjunction with EirGrid is the Market Operator (MO) of the Single Electricity Market (SEM).

Natasha Sayee, Head of Public Affairs at SONI, said: "As operator of the high voltage grid, one of our vital functions is to ensure the Northern Ireland economy has the power it needs for growing our local businesses and for attracting foreign direct investment - making sure the power is there where and when it is needed. To do this we have to strengthen the grid through projects like the North South Interconnector which is undoubtedly the single most important infrastructure project on the island today.

“Working with the business community, understanding their needs and helping them to become aware of the key role we play is essential to us. We are delighted to be partnering with NI Chamber in navigating the business community through a time of real challenge and change for the energy sector and in developing a collaborative approach as we work towards a brighter future for business in Northern Ireland."

For more information on the Energy Forum, or to register for the event, visit www.northernirelandchamber.com or email mail@northernirelandchamber.com