WINTER storms have delayed a £20 million operation to repair the Moyle electricity interconnector.
Gales forced the offshore construction vessel North Sea Giant to shelter in Belfast harbour, leaving both the submarine cables that connect Islandmagee to Ayrshire and the Great Britain national grid out of action.
The interconnector was laid to secure continuity of supply and the delay in repairing the damaged cables means that Northern Ireland cannot buy in reserves from across the Irish Sea to top up local production.
However, SONI, the company responsible for maintaining power supplies in Northern Ireland, has moved to allay fears that the damage could lead to power cuts. Grid operations manager Brendan Woods explained: “The loss of the interconnector for such a period does reduce our operating margin, which obviously increases risk. But we manage that risk on a day-to-day basis and we are confident we can do so into the future.
“It would take the sustained loss of another major generating unit in order to further reduce those operating margins, which would make it very tight, in which case the risk obviously does increase.”
Mutual Energy, which owns the interconnector, has said it expects the cost of the repair operation will be borne by its insurers and not electricity consumers.