Alliance Assembly member Sean Neeson has criticised Under Secretary of State Ian Pearson for providing only ‘the flimsiest of excuses’ for not including a low-cost borrowing mechanism in the Draft Energy Order, which was debated in the House of Commons on Monday.
Mr Pearson stated that he was not able to include the mechanism – which would have reduced electricity costs in Northern Ireland – ‘in the time available’.
Mr Neeson said: “The need for the refinancing of long-term power station contracts has been known about since 1999, so it seems ludicrous that the Direct Rule Minister can now turn around and say he couldn’t introduce options in time to meet his legislative deadline.”
“Electricity costs the consumer more in Northern Ireland than almost anywhere else in Europe, and this was the perfect opportunity to reduce them. Instead, what we have been left with is half-baked legislation that can’t now be amended easily and sky high electricity bills. I cannot think of a better reason for getting the Assembly restored.”
“Despite the Minister’s assurance to me that a low-cost loan scheme would be included in the Energy Order, none was included. Although he has now said that meetings ‘are continuing’ to take place on how electricity costs can be reduced, and that consultation will happen ‘shortly’, it could be years until anything happens. Until then, there will always be the suspicion that pressure from the Treasury is holding things up.”