Irish power market redesign at risk of delay – operator

07 September 2017 16:30 Source:ICIS

The head of the organisation overseeing the redesign of the Irish power market has expressed reservations that the new market will be ready for its May 2018 launch date.

Single Electricity Market Operator (SEMO) general manager Rodney Doyle told ICIS the scale of the redesign meant the possibility of further delays to the go-live date were a possibility.

“I absolutely am concerned [about the May deadline], of course I am,” he said on Thursday.

“It’s a huge transition we’re making across everything, from changes in the control centres to changing websites to replacing the settlement systems to introducing a power exchange for the first time… it’s a massive change.”

The present all-Ireland single electricity market (SEM) is currently in the final stages of a full overhaul, which initially began in early 2014. The new integrated single electricity market (I-SEM), which is being launched in order to more closely align Ireland with European electricity markets to improve cross-border flows and increase competition, was originally due to launch in October 2017.

But in November last year regulators pushed back the go-live date to 23 May 2017 on the recommendation of market participants, who requested more time to trial the market’s new systems.

“What we’ve done since [the first delay] is we have in place a regular check-in with all our market participants on both islands,” Doyle said, in reference to Ireland and Great Britain.

Market trial

“Our own drive is towards the market trial, because I feel at that stage it flushes people out of the long grass and they really have to declare their hand and we’ll see are people ready to go live or not,” he said.

A full market trial is due to commence in December and will run right up to the launch of the new market in May.

“[The] risk [of delays] remains, but what we’re doing at the moment is everything we possibly can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he added.

Doyle, who is also director of market operations at Irish system operator EirGrid, stressed the importance of an interim period for I-SEM between the go-live date and March 2019.

This is to allow the market to operate fully for an extended period before Britain – including Northern Ireland – formally leaves the EU.

“You could see another delay because of what’s going on… [but] the earlier we get it in place, the longer the period we have before March 2019 and the better it is overall.”

End-to-end testing of the market’s new systems and services, the majority of which have been designed from the ground up, has been ongoing throughout 2017. A programme of classroom-based training for participants has also taken place.

By Christopher Somers