Energy Regulator Issues 'Acute' Warning About Threat to Power Supply
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) warned the risk to Ireland's security of power supply was "acute" due to worries about large blackouts and possible collateral damage to the government's climate change programme.
Challenges to supply received a five out of five rating for impact and a four out of five rating for likelihood in the most recent risk record maintained by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).
Due to this, there is a 20 out of 25 chance that the power demand may not be met between now and 2025.
"Loss of load expectation," "expectations higher than the target," and/or "major events occurring during the period, such as substantial outages" were all potential outcomes, according to the statement.
"It has the potential to impede public sentiment for the Climate Action Plan and the transition to a low carbon future," the risk register continued.
The CRU, however, cautioned that its inability to accomplish its goals was being hampered by a need to expedite the development of climate targets and address supply problems.
The likelihood of critical work being delayed as well as "burnout of current workers and potential retention concerns" were also mentioned.
Additionally, it stated that although adding new employees required considerable work and expense, the regulator now only had six open positions, with two of those being posted.
The CRU added that certain resources had been redistributed to critical areas, such as supply security.
The register, made available through a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request, stated that the raw risk from insufficient resources was rated 25 out of 25.
The framework in place to guarantee that the demand for electricity during the following three years would always be satisfied has also drawn criticism. This risk received 15 out of 25 ratings.
To address the shortage of energy supplies, CRU, Eirgrid, and the Department of the Environment have established a project management office.
“This (office) co-ordinates regular update reports on the programme including current risks and issues and the status of the actions/mitigations,” said the register.
Additionally, issues with the CRU's record-keeping methods were brought up due to the potential for "loss, mismanagement, or misuse" of data.
It stated that a new records retention policy was required to handle "inefficiencies related to records or data not being retrievable" and to maintain compliance with laws like FOI.
The CRU also raised the prospect that Brexit would hinder procurement with Northern Ireland's utility regulator.
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.”
It was stated that this posed a risk of unwittingly violating procurement legislation, with the possibility of third parties filing claims for violations.
However, according to a representative for the CRU, these concerns over cooperative procurement have been addressed and resolved.
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.”