Licensing

NIE Networks is the owner of the electricity transmission and distribution networks in Northern Ireland and is the electricity distribution network operator, serving all customers connected to the network.

Our role is –

  • to operate the network of overhead lines, underground cables and substations effectively to ‘keep the lights on’ for our customers;
  • to maintain our network so that it is in a condition to remain safe and reliable;
  • to fix our network if it gets damaged or if it is faulty;
  • to upgrade or extend the existing network to provide additional electricity supplies or capacity to our customers including the development of innovative solutions to manage the increasing level of renewables connections and the uptake of low carbon technologies;
  • to provide electricity meters and provide metering data to suppliers and market operators. This is a key role in enabling wholesale and retail market competition; and
  • to connect customers to the network, both for new electricity supplies and for new electricity generators.

The Electricity (NI) Order 1992 established the legal framework for the privatisation of the electricity industry in Northern Ireland. The 1992 Order requires NIE Networks to –

  • be licenced in relation to distribution and participation in transmission;
  • be certified for participation in transmission on the basis that one out of four certification grounds applies (a requirement of European legislation commonly referred to as “IME3”);
  • develop and maintain an efficient, co-ordinated and economical system of electricity distribution; and
  • facilitate competition in the supply and generation of electricity.

NIE Networks operates under an Electricity Distribution Licence and a Participate in Transmission Licence granted by the Department for the Economy (DfE). The DfE has responsibility for determining policy regarding security of supply, development of energy infrastructure and energy efficiency, including smart metering.

NIE Networks is a regulated company and our day to day business activities are overseen by the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (the Utility Regulator).

The principal objective of the Utility Regulator and the DfE is to protect the interests of electricity consumers.

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