Concerns raised about stability of electricity supply due to Brexit and government policies

The commission for regulating electricity warned the risk to security of supply of power in Ireland was “acute” amid [fears of] significant outages and collateral damage to government policy on climate change.

The latest risk register for the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) scored challenges to supply at five out of five for impact, and four out of five for the likelihood of them happening.

This created a risk calculated at 20 out of 25 that electricity supply needs would not be met between now and 2025.

It warned of the potential for “loss of load expectation, expectation higher than target and / or significant events occurring during the period such as significant outages”.

The risk register added: “[It has] the potential to hamper public sentiment for [the] Climate Action Plan and the transition to [a] low carbon future. ”

The CRU also warned that inadequate resources were affecting their ability to deliver on their objectives, compounded by requirements to accelerate work on climate targets and deal with supply issues.

It said there was a risk of delays to key work as well as the possibility of “burnout of existing staff and potential retention issues”.

They said recruiting new staff required significant effort and cost but that vacancies in the regulator were down to six, with two jobs currently being advertised.

Resources reassigned to security of supply

The CRU also said some resources had been reassigned to priority areas including security of supply.

The raw risk from inadequate resources was scored at 25 out of 25, according to the register that was released under FOI.

Concerns were also raised about the system for ensuring that demand for electricity was always met over the next three years.

This risk was scored at 15 out of 25 with a project management office set up between CRU, Eirgrid, and the Department of the Environment to tackle the energy supply crunch.

“[This office] coordinates regular update reports on the program including current risks and issues and the status of the actions / mitigations, ”said the register.

Concerns were also raised over the CRU’s systems for managing records with the risk of “loss, mismanagement, or misuse” of data.

It said a new records retention policy was needed to ensure compliance with laws like FOI as well as manage “inefficiencies due to records / data not being retrievable”.

Brexit could present complications

The CRU also flagged the possibility that Brexit would make procurement with the utility regulator in Northern Ireland more complicated.

The risk register said: “As [the] UK is outside the EU, the EU Exit Procurement agreement will have legal implications on our ability to jointly issue contract notices for services. ”

They said this carried a risk of inadvertently breaking procurement law with the potential for claims made by third parties for breaches.

However, a spokesperson for the CRU said these issues around joint procurement had since been addressed and closed off.

A statement from the CRU said: “The CRU operates a systematic risk management process to proactively identify, assess and mitigate risks to delivering imperatives including ensuring energy and water security, addressing climate change and protecting the interests of customers.”

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