Keep an eye on key dates

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On 30 June 2016 the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation for small scale onshore wind closed to new developers following a well documented consultative process. (It should be noted that this article focuses on onshore wind).

Any small-scale onshore wind projects seeking to accredit after 30 June 2016 are required to meet the approved development grace period eligibility requirements set out later in this article.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union have been involved in discussions with NIE Networks and it transpires that there are a number of potential small scale renewable wind generators who, despite having paid their 20% deposits (whose projects are subject to no grid delays) have yet to pay their final balances.

There are instances where applicants are experiencing wayleave, lease delays and/or planning approval hold-ups but these do not constitute to grid delays which would satisfy Grace Periods set out above.

The UFU are calling upon affected members to do what they can to ease these delays by keeping in contact with their legal representatives and stressing the urgency for a swift resolution. However, what is clear is that there are a number of applicants who despite having passed these stages of the grid application process have still failed to pay their final balances.

The UFU have been asked by NIE Networks to remind our members that the longer you delay paying the final balance, the less likely it may be that you will be connected in time to attain NIRO accreditation. If you have already met the “approved development” (details right) conditions before 30 September 2015 and are still to pay your final balance with NIE Networks and there are no grid/radar nor investment delays, you need to be operational and accredited before 31 March 2017 if you are going to be able to avail of the NIRO.

Developers wishing to

Accredit to the NIRO after 30 June 2016

Small scale onshore wind projects which seek to accredit under the NIRO after 30 June 2016, first and foremost need to be able to demonstrate to OFGEM that they meet the “approved development” grace period eligibility criteria in place before 30 September 2015:

l ‘Approved development’ condition;

l Grid connection agreement from NIE Network

l Ability to prove ownership/control over land rights

l Evidence of Planning Permission

In addition:

l ‘Grid or Radar Delay’ condition: for generating stations that have been subject to grid connection or radar works delays that were not because of a breach by a developer.

l ‘Investment Freezing’ condition: for generating stations where required finance could not be obtained as a result of legislative uncertainty before the NIRO Closure Order 2016 was implemented.

The grace periods are subject to strict conditions and will be only applicable where the delay was beyond the developers control.

The Five Grace Periods are best illustrated in Figure One.

GP1 - Grace period available from 1 July 2016 to 31 March 2017 - Approved development

GP2 - Grace period available from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 - Grid and/or radar delay

GP3 - Grace period available from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 – ‘Approved development’ AND ‘investment freezing’

GP4 - Grace period available from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 – Grace Period for generating stations that meet ‘Approved development’ AND ‘grid and/or radar delay’

GP 5 - Grace period available from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 - ‘Approved development’ AND ‘investment freezing’ AND ‘grid and/or radar delay’

Grace Period Assessment

Applicants should not submit their grace period evidence to OFGEM before they submit their full application for accreditation. OFGEM will not assess eligibility for a grace period until an application for full accreditation has been received.

OFGEM have confirmed that they will issue guidance explaining how to apply for accreditation and grace periods shortly.

Conclusion

If you are not facing any delays highlighted above and you have paid your 20% deposit and you are wishing to proceed you should be conscious of the 31 March 2017 deadline if you are wishing to accredit for the NIRO.