Senior executives of Northern Ireland’s main utility companies have met with Stormont Minister Danny Kennedy to update him on the annual joint campaign to prepare for any potential disruption caused by extreme weather.
Over the last number of years BT, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), NI Water and Phoenix Natural Gas have been working together regularly to identify ways in which the companies could provide mutual support and aid during periods of severe weather or other unforeseen situations.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: “I very much welcome the continuation of this initiative as a pragmatic 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.
“Everyone needs to be prepared for winter. I commend the proactive efforts of the utilities companies in coming together to share their knowledge and resources to further improve the vital support they deliver to all of us, often in very severe weather conditions.”
Speaking after the high-level ministerial briefing at Stormont, Michael McKinstry, Phoenix Group Chief Executive and representative of the Joint Utilities Group, said: “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 consumers. In particular we have looked at shared resources such as people, equipment, transportation vehicles and 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 working together in such instances if appropriate.