As firmus energy prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary the company’s Managing Director, Michael Scott, reflects on how the company has helped make natural gas accessible to many people in Northern Ireland.
As firmus energy approaches its 10th birthday, we look back on the local company’s key achievements and investments to date. With over 980km of natural gas pipeline in more than 25 cities, towns, and villages across Northern Ireland, firmus energy has invested around £100 million to bring the benefits of natural gas to more than 76,000 customers.
Strategic planning remains a priority for Antrim-based firmus energy and its 100 strong team who are planning the development of the network for today, tomorrow and the future as the demand for this versatile, convenient and environmentally-friendly fuel continues to rise.
Stakeholder consultation is an important part of these plans and firmus energy recently undertook a series of information events in local council areas across the province. The aim was to update elected representatives regarding proposed development plans for its natural gas network. Two-way communication and feedback with local elected representatives has helped to shape the network development plans which have been submitted to the Utility Regulator to cover the 2017-2022 price control period.
Between June and October this year, the company’s Directors met with Council Chief Executives, planning officials and elected representatives including MLAs and Councillors across its network areas. Following liaison with six council areas, briefings were set up and a drop-in session for MLAs in Stormont was held.
Michael Scott, Managing Director explains: “Our strategy is a three strand approach and modelled on a “WIN“ basis, which means that we “Work” our existing assets (pipes in the ground) to maximise connections to the network, “Infill” the gas network to areas in close proximity to existing mains, making gas available to other potential customers in new residential areas. Finally look at opportunities for “Network extensions”
to bring gas to others outside our current licensed areas. Consulting with elected representatives allows us to align our company goals with those of our local communities.”
More than 300 contractors, installers and agencies work to deliver firmus energy’s network plans and engaging with representatives from each specific area enables the company to provide even more opportunities for suppliers.
Michael continues: “Having connected our first major business, Michelin in Ballymena back in 2005, we have continued to develop our major gas user customer base and today more than 90% of major industrial users along the routes of our pipelines are now customers. Our goal is to bring even more companies, public buildings, schools and homes on-board, meaning cleaner air for more areas as natural gas is a low-emission fossil fuel.
“We are continuing our residential customer development, bringing natural gas to more and more areas and, working with the office of the Utility Regulator, we regularly apply for licences to extend our network to new locations. For example, we recently started working to bring natural gas to customers in Richhill, where the uptake has been extremely encouraging. In the near future, we plan to develop the network to the Moy, Loughgall, Benburb and Blackwatertown.
“The future of natural gas in Northern Ireland is bright as we continue to invest in bringing the advantages of this convenient and environmentally-friendly fuel to as many customers as possible. This is great news for the Northern Ireland economy, the associated contractors, gas installers and trade, along with the environment and local consumers,” he added.
To find out if you can connect to natural gas, call a firmus energy customer advisor on 0800 032 4567 or visit www.firmusenergy.co.uk