Utilities launch winter readiness campaign (Northern Ireland)

22nd November 2012

The chief executives of Northern Ireland’s main utility companies have met with Stormont Ministers to update them on an ongoing joined-up campaign to prepare for any potential disruption caused by extreme weather.

Over the last year BT, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), Northern Ireland Water (NIW) and Phoenix Natural Gas have been working together more formally and regularly to identify ways in which the companies could provide mutual support and aid during periods of severe weather or other unforeseen situations.

Energy Minister Arlene Foster said:

I very much welcome this initiative as a pragmatic and practical approach to prepare for emergencies, no matter what may cause them. The combined breadth of expertise between these companies will ensure that the impact of disruption to the services they provide is minimised for customers, particularly those considered most vulnerable during an emergency. It is an interesting approach to mutual aid which other organisations may wish to consider.”

Speaking after the high-level Ministerial briefing at parliament buildings, Joe O’Mahony from NIE said:

We have been looking at areas of operational cross over and at how we can best promote key contact details for local utilities. It is increasingly important to have key information, contacts and mutual assistance to hand if severe weather or other circumstances are affecting the services to your home.”

Trevor Haslett from NI Water explained:

Although all of our companies require specialist skills to repair our networks, following an operational audit we have identified a number of areas where we could work together for the mutual benefit of our customers. In particular we have looked at shared resources such as people, equipment, transportation vehicles or access to buildings.”

Experts believe that extreme weather across the UK and Ireland is becoming more commonplace and local government has commended the utility companies for progressing a more formal process for working together in such instances if appropriate.