Northern Ireland faces blackouts and drastic electricity price rises in the event of a no-deal Brexit, leaked government documents reveal.
The country would likely be cut off from electricity supplies from the Republic of Ireland and unable to use its sole electricity link to the UK mainland, according to an internal briefing.
Officials have been warning for months that Northern Ireland’s electricity market could collapse, triggering “unprecedented consequences” and forcing authorities to prepare to take energy infrastructure into public ownership to keep the lights on.
The government documents, shared widely across Whitehall and seen by the Guardian, show that in the event of a no-deal Brexit:
- Householders in Northern Ireland could see their electricity bills spike by up to £200.
- Energy companies could collapse.
- Diesel generators would be needed to keep power supplies running.
- The UK government has not yet talked to power station operators in Northern Ireland.
For more than a decade, Ireland and Northern Ireland have had a joint electricity market, known as the Single Electricity Market (SEM), allowing power to be traded across the border.
But that market would likely collapse if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, because there would no longer be a basis for staying in the SEM. A deal with the EU is described as “essential” to the market’s future.
“Without a deal there are significant price and security of supply risks for Northern Ireland,” according to the government briefing. Those include “electricity blackouts”, “up to 34% increase in [electricity] bills”, and the need for “heavy government intervention”.
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Adam Vaughan and Nick Hopkins