Alliance East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson has expressed his deep concern at news Kilroot Power Station is facing closure.
It follows the outcome of the first capacity remuneration mechanism (CRM) auction in the new integrated single electricity market (ISEM). The auction signalled 36 per cent of the current generation capacity in Northern Ireland through Kilroot and Ballylumford Power Stations is no longer required.
Kilroot now faces closure in May, with Ballylumford expected to follow in December.
Mr Dickson said he was concerned for the workers affected by the news, which is the latest in a number of blows to the local economy in East Antrim.
“Kilroot is a key part of the East Antrim community and the wider Northern Ireland economy. The decisions around the energy auction seem premature and potentially counter-productive.
“Alliance supports the rebalancing of our energy production toward renewables and away from carbon fuels. But it is important it happens in an organised and structured way. This includes the eventual decommissioning of Kilroot and Ballylumford.
“ISEM offers the potential for greater security of supply, diversification in production and lower prices to domestic and commercial consumers. However, it is not yet complete. The North-South Interconnector is a key piece of infrastructure and one of the key rationales behind it is energy security. This implies we do not have complete energy security at present.
“The forced closure of these power stations ahead of schedule takes a considerable amount of existing generation capacity out of the system. It is far from certain under the current network there are sufficient checks for extreme situations in which there is increased demand for power, there are cold and still weather conditions, and a breach in the Moyle Interconnector or a combination of them.
“There needs to be clear transparency and explanations around these decisions, and challenge to Utility Regulator and the Department for the Economy. I will be seeking urgent meetings with them to see if there is a better way to minimise risks.
“I am also deeply concerned at the impact on the local economy in East Antrim and express my solidarity with the employees who may be potentially affected by this decision.”