HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 cc1310-1W
Lady Hermon

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many unexpected power cuts there were in Northern Ireland in the last three years for which figures are available; what the cause was in each case; and what steps he is taking to secure the continuity of the power supply in Northern Ireland. [157656]

Mr. Pearson

The following table gives a breakdown of the unexpected power cuts recorded on the NIE network between 2001 and 2003. It does not distinguish between minor cuts of very short duration and more extensive power failures.

Unexpected power cuts recorded on the NIE network
Direct Cause of power cut 2001 2002 2003
Weather and environment 2,012 1,614 1,516
Ageing, wear and tear NIE equipment 2,001 2,072 1,753
Third party 1,439 1,387 1,213
Vandalism 118 112 120
Transient faults 2,601 2,526 2,078
Other faults (birds, animals manufacturing

faults etc.)

215 211 222
Total 8,386 7,922 6,902

I am satisfied that both the generation and supply of electricity in Northern Ireland are adequate to meet expected demand for at least the next five years.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) works closely with the Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation (NIAER) and the industry to ensure continuity of supply through a variety of measures. These include extensive investment in the transmission and distribution network to ensure that there is minimum disruption of power supplies due to network related problems. Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has invested some £418 million in the period 1998 to 2003 and this has contributed to a significant reduction in the incidence of power cuts related to network ageing, wear and tear, transient faults and to adverse weather conditions.

European Directive 2003/54/EC Schedule 4 requires member states to monitor security of supply issues, reporting every two years to the Commission on findings and measures taken to address problems. Such monitoring is currently the joint responsibility of DETI and the NIAER.