Northern Ireland Electricity

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Northern Ireland Electricity plc
Private (subsidiary of ESB Group)
Industry Energy
Founded 25 October 1991
Headquarters Belfast, Northern Ireland
Revenue £693.2 million (2006)
£117.6 million
Number of employees
351 (2006)
Parent ESB Group

Power At Your ...Northern Ireland Electricity]]

Northern Ireland Electricity Limited (NIE) is the electricity asset owner of the transmission and distribution infrastructure in Northern Ireland. NIE does not generate or supply electricity. NIE is a subsidiary of ESB Group.

NIE has three transmission interconnectors with the Electricity Supply Board transmission grid in the Republic of Ireland. The main interconnector with the Republic of Ireland was built in 1970 between Tandragee and Louth but "the Troubles" saw the interconnector destroyed in 1975 and left in that state for twenty years until repair.[1]

NIE should not be confused with Power NI, its own former supply business, which was not part of the sale to the ESB and remains owned by Viridian. NIE Energy changed its name to Power NI on 25 July 2011, as ESB retained the NIE name in Northern Ireland. [2]


In 1973 the Northern Ireland Electricity Service (NIES) was formed as a public utility to generate, transmit and supply electricity to Northern Ireland.

During the Ulster Workers' Council strike in 1974, when electricity supplies were severely disrupted, the government considered generating power using Royal Navy nuclear submarines in Belfast Lough but the idea was abandoned as being technically unfeasible.[3]

In 1991, the company was incorporated as a government-owned public limited company, Northern Ireland Electricity plc. In 1992 the four power stations at Belfast Harbour, Ballylumford, Coolkeeragh and Carrickfergus (Kilroot) were demerged and sold. In 1993 the remainder of NIE (transmission, supply and retail businesses) was privatised as Northern Ireland Electricity plc. In 1998, Northern Ireland Electricity plc became part of Viridian Group plc, with Northern Ireland Electricity now a subsidiary of that holding company. Northern Ireland Electricity supplies electricity to approximately 740,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland.

NIE has often been criticised for having the most expensive electricity in Europe.[citation needed] This is attributed to a number of factors including the small population of Northern Ireland and the large areas of thinly populated countryside the company is required to serve and the network's over-dependence on oil-fired generation.[citation needed] The introduction of the Single Electricity Market (SEM) in Ireland in late 2007 was designed to increase competition in the Northern Ireland market.[citation needed]

NIE sold SONI, the operator of the transmission network to EirGrid in March 2009 for £30 million.[4]

In 2008 NIE sponsored a new solar roof for Straidhavern Primary School through its Smart programme.[5]

In May 2010 NIE Energy Supply announced that it will be running a scheme to help farmers afford solar power water heaters.

On 7 July 2010 BBC News reported that ESB is to purchase NIE for £1 billion.[6] On 21 September 2010 it was revealed unionist politicians (Peter Robinson and Reg Empey), had written to the Taoiseach objecting to the transaction. They said it was "inappropriate" and that it amounted to the purchase of a "key component" of Northern Ireland's infrastructure .[7] ESB is a statutory corporation in the Republic of Ireland whose board members are appointed by the Irish government.

See also


  1. Morton, Robin (10 April 2002). "£12m power network". Belfast Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "ESB sizes up North's power networks". Sunday Times (Irish ed.). 25 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. “Straidhavern Primary School switches onto solar power.” BNET. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 October 2009. <>
  6. Irish ESB is to buy NIE for £1bn
  7. "Political opposition to ESB's NIE deal". RTÉ News. 21 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links