The Ministers were meeting for the first time to discuss how ongoing cooperation on energy issues can bring mutual economic and social benefits to both jurisdictions.
Speaking after the meeting in Newry, Minister Dodds said: “Over the last decade the European Union, in pushing for increased competition, has been a significant force in driving change in energy markets. Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have taken the lead to create a competitive Single Electricity Market that will deliver mutual benefits to consumers. It is the first of its kind in Europe and it is the start of a staged process to deliver greater regional harmonisation, leading to a UK- Republic of Ireland – France regional market.”
Mr Dodds continued: “It does not make sense to operate small isolated markets when there are benefits to be gained from a single, larger market. I must congratulate the Regulators, the System Operators and the industry on delivering it so quickly.
“The new market will bring efficiency savings and enhance competition to help minimise the wholesale cost of electricity, with the vast bulk of the benefits going to the consumer.”
Eamon Ryan said: “The first day of operation of the Single Electricity Market marks an important step in the development of a competitive cross-border energy market. Full credit must go to the two Regulatory Authorities, the System Operators and all the market players for the way they have all worked together to reach this point.
“Together with the work underway to deliver enhanced electricity interconnection North /South and East/ West, the Single Electricity Market will deliver a major boost to ensuring the security, reliability and competitiveness of electricity supplies throughout the island.
“I am particularly pleased to welcome the completion of the All-island Grid Study which is ground-breaking research by international standards. The Study gives us cutting-edge information on what can be achieved in the area of renewable technologies by 2020 – and how to get there. Minister Dodds and I have agreed that we should publish the Study within the next few weeks and we have asked our officials to identify the follow-up work that will be needed to take this challenging agenda forward.”
Both Ministers have acted to ensure that the Regulatory Committee which will regulate the new Market acts in the best interests of consumers and that it has a strong independent voice. Two senior European energy experts have been appointed onto the Committee; Professor Ignacio Perez will act as the independent member and Dr Jose Sierra will act as the deputy independent member.
Both Ministers agreed to meet again early in the New Year to explore the scope for further energy cooperation to bring mutual economic and social benefits. These will potentially include developing common arrangements for gas, sustainable energy initiatives including energy efficiency and renewable energy and security of supply for electricity and gas.
After the meeting Minister Dodds and Minister Ryan travelled to Armaghdown Creamery in Banbridge to mark the completion of the South/North gas pipeline.