To ensure electricity can flow from where it is generated to where it is needed across Northern Ireland, our team operate the grid from our Control Centre in Belfast. The Control Centre carries out the intricate task of matching electricity production to consumer demand. Our main objective is to operate the transmission system in the most economical manner, consistent with safety, security, continuity, quality and environmental standards.
As customer demand varies on a daily, weekly and seasonal basis, managing to generate enough electricity to meet demand is a very difficult task. Available generation must match consumer demand to maintain system stability. This simple fact informs the planning we carry out to ensure the grid is safe, secure and reliable, 24/7, 365 days a year.
The Control Centre must also plan for unforeseen events, such as demand exceeding expectations. For more information on such events see here. Our staff use the most sophisticated software to make sure we operate the grid in the best and most cost efficient manner.
When the buffer between electricity supply and demand is tighter than SONI would like, SONI issues an alert to the electricity sector. Alerts are more likely to take place in the winter months when demand for electricity is at its highest. A System Alert (previously known as an Amber Alert) is the lowest level alert, followed by System Emergency (previously known as a Red Alert). More information about grid alerts can be found here.