Response to DETI Consultation on Closure of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) to new onshore wind in 2016

Summary position

As a result of the DETI consultation; for projects which meet the three eligibility criteria set out by DETI by the relevant date (either 30 October for onshore wind connections to clusters or 30 September for all other onshore wind connections), these projects can have until March 2017 to accredit under the NIRO.

A further year grace period until March 2018 may also be available for projects which meet the eligibility criteria above but fall outside March 2017 due to grid delays.

For onshore wind projects which do not meet the eligibility criteria by the relevant date, these will be required to connect and accredit by March 2016 to avail of the NIRO.

DETI Consultation

DETI has today [30th September 2015] published a consultation relating to the closure of the NIRO for onshore wind. NIE Networks has summarised some of the key points from the DETI consultation below:
  • DETI proposes a revised policy in relation to the closure of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) to new onshore wind projects of all sizes from 1 April 2016. Other renewable technologies are not affected by this revision.
  • DETI refers to two grace periods within their consultation

Early closure grace period

In order to be eligible for the proposed early closure grace period, cluster-connection projects will need to demonstrate that they satisfy all of the grace period conditions as of 30 October 2015.

The eligibility date for wind projects not connecting to clusters, will mirror the GB position and is therefore the date of publication of DETI’s consultation i.e 30 September 2015.
  1. The proposed early closure grace period would apply to projects which are able to:
  2. Demonstrate that they have relevant planning permission dated no later than the relevant eligibility date;
  3. Demonstrate that they have a grid connection offer and acceptance of that offer, both dated no later than the relevant eligibility date or confirmation that no grid connection is required; and
  4. ​Provide a Director’s Certificate confirming that, as at the relevant eligibility date, the developer or proposed operator of the station owns the land on which the station is to be situated or has an option or agreement to lease the land or is party to an exclusivity agreement in relation to the land.
Projects that satisfy the early closure grace period criteria, for which they will need to apply to Ofgem, would be able to accredit under the NIRO up to 31 March 2017.

Grid Delay grace period

Eligible projects will have a further year to accredit under the NIRO should they meet the radar/grid delay grace period criteria. Applicants will be eligible for a 12 month grid delay grace period if they have a grid connection agreement consisting of:
  1. A grid connection offer;
  2. Acceptance of that offer;
  3. A letter from the network operator (NIE Networks/SONI) which confirms that at the date of receipt of the connection application for the proposed generating station it was the intention to complete the relevant grid works no later than 31st March 2017.

Position for applicants with accepted offers

For those Small Scale Generation applicants that already have accepted grid connection offers, NIE Networks expects to deliver these for March 2017. This work is of an order of c550 jobs equating to c120MW. NIE Networks has strengthened resources in critical areas to meet this delivery challenge.

If any of these offers are delayed due to grid delays, customers should request the relevant letter from NIE Networks in March 2017 to then apply to Ofgem for the grid delay grace period.

Position for applicants without accepted offers by the relevant eligibility date

For applicants coming into the process now or without an accepted offer by the relevant eligibility date; connection is unlikely to complete by March 2017 unless they are very small jobs. For more information on the expected timeframes.

Please note that NIE Networks will include estimated dates for connection (by Month/ Year) in connections offers issued from October 2015 onwards.

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