Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has joined an all-island advocacy network in a bid to ensure the area remains at the forefront of energy generation.
Not only is the borough is home to Kilroot and Ballylumford Power Stations, it also contains the landing point for the electricity interconnector between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Councillors have agreed to become a member of Smart Grid Ireland.
Elected members and officers have been working closely with operators EP around the future of Kilroot and Ballylumford as they secure supply contracts for the Northern Ireland energy market.
Last November the council welcomed the approval of a 12-month operating contract to Kilroot Power Station, which guaranteed energy production on the site over the short term.
Smart Grid Ireland’s mission is to facilitate the delivery of a secure, affordable and sustainable energy infrastructure, positioning Ireland at the forefront of global smart grid development to create long-term economic wealth.
Alderman Billy Ashe MBE, who chairs the council group set up to consider energy provision and supply, explained the thinking behind the link up.
He said: “It is vital existing local energy suppliers are placed at the heart of discussions around a long-term energy strategy for Northern Ireland.
“As a council, we need to continue to lobby for our existing energy suppliers to play a key role in the consultation process ahead of the proposed creation of a new energy strategy for Northern Ireland with the aim of securing sustainable contracts to supply the regional energy market.
“Energy policy is an important factor for council, given we are large consumers of energy and require a secure and sustainable supply.
“The two power stations are core elements to our local economy. It not only affects residents but wider commerce and industry.
“By signing up to Smart Grid Ireland’s energy cluster we can explore funding opportunities in the sector, look at where we can best use energy resources across the borough and ultimately lead to improved efficiencies.”
A Smart Grid is an electricity network that can cost efficiently integrate the behaviour and actions of all users connected to it - generators, consumers and those that do both – in order to ensure economically efficient, sustainable power system with low losses and high levels of quality and security of supply and safety.