SONI launch Mid-Antrim Upgrade Project to strengthen the electricity grid

31 October 2022

SONI, the electricity transmission system operator for Northern Ireland, have announced plans to upgrade the transmission grid between the Kells and Rasharkin Main Substations in County Antrim.   

The proposed upgrade will strengthen the grid in the Mid Antrim area, making it more resilient, as well as supporting Northern Ireland’s renewable ambitions. The project, if delivered, is estimated to save Northern Ireland consumers £9.5m per year by 2030.

As part of SONI’s commitment to meaningful community engagement, the organisation is partnering with Involve NI who have expertise in helping to ensure effective local consultation.

The need for the additional grid capacity has been recognised by the Utility Regulator which has approved the necessary level of expenditure.  Welcoming the project, SONI’s Managing Director Alan Campbell said:

“The Mid Antrim Upgrade project is essential in allowing more renewable energy sources to be connected to the electricity grid and ensure a clean and secure electricity supply for everyone across Northern Ireland. Importantly it will also remove costly bottlenecks on the grid and will strengthen the grid locally, making it more resilient.

“We are currently in the early stages of planning for the project and are committed to early and meaningful engagement with local communities and stakeholders. As we develop our plans and proposed routes, an extensive public consultation process will be undertaken prior to the submission of a planning application.”

“SONI are committed to achieving the best possible outcome so that we can continue to deliver effectively and efficiently for the Northern Ireland consumer. The project will also support our response to the climate emergency by transforming the power system for future generations.”

Rebekah McCabe, Engagement Lead, Involve NI stated “We are delighted to support a robust community engagement process on this important project. Delivering renewable energy is vital if we are to tackle the climate crisis. But too often, decisions are made about how to do it without including local communities' voices. We are proud to support SONI to lead the way in changing that and placing the public at the heart of energy decisions that affect them and their communities.”

The Mid Antrim Upgrade project was identified in The Shaping Our Electricity Future Roadmap as an upgrade to the transmission grid to help deliver Northern Ireland’s 2030 clean energy ambition – an important step on the journey to net zero carbon emissions.

SONI have a central role to play in Northern Ireland’s transition to cleaner electricity, as we strive to deliver our climate ambition of at least 80% of our electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030. To prepare for this, the way the electricity grid is developed needs fundamentally changed.

This significant Mid Antrim Upgrade investment will enable renewable energy produced in the north and west, to move to the urban centres in the east, where it will be used. Renewable energy is central to delivering a clean, low carbon electricity system, which will support Northern Ireland’s clean electricity target of at least 80% renewable energy generation by 2030. We need to double the amount of renewable generation connected to the grid today by 2030, to meet the Northern Ireland Executive’s Energy Strategy. This project will help to improve the efficiency of the whole electricity system, making sure we have a more efficient, secure and sustainable electricity supply.

Notes to Editors

1. The System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) is responsible for the safe, secure, efficient and reliable operation of the high-voltage electricity system in Northern Ireland (NI). Part of the EirGrid Group since 2009, SONI is the licensed independent electricity Transmission System Operator (TSO) and licensed Market Operator (MO) of the Single Electricity Market (SEM) wholesale trading system. SONI is responsible for planning the transmission network across NI. It manages all types of generation connected to or seeking to connect to the transmission system. 

2. People can make submissions via the SONI Consultation Portal:
There are consultation days, where members of the project team will be able to discuss the maintenance and construction aspects of the project with you:

2pm-7pm, Wednesday 16 November 2022 at the Ross Park Hotel, Ballymena, BT42 3LZ
2pm-7pm, Tuesday 22 November 2022 at The Bank Portglenone, Portglenone, BT44 8HP
2pm-7pm, Tuesday 29 November 2022 at Rasharkin Community, Ballymena, BT44 8RX

Submissions can be emailed to SONI at 

Written submissions can be sent by freepost to ‘Mid Antrim Upgrade Project, SONI, Castlereagh House, 12 Manse Road, Belfast, BT6 9RT’

The public can follow SONI on LinkedIn – SONI Ltd or Twitter – @Soni_ltd, or visit our project webpage at
SONI welcomes feedback up until 12 December 2022.

3. SONI has appointed the public participation charity Involve to facilitate a two-part engagement process consisting of a Community Forum and a Citizen Sounding Board, to enable as diverse a group as possible to learn more about the upgrade and route options, and provide feedback that SONI can use when developing the preferred option for the upgrade. 
The Community Forum is an opportunity for community representations to come together to build their understanding of the proposed route options, reflect the views of their organisation or community, and provide information or insights that may need to be taken into account during project delivery. SONI would like members of local community organisations to express an interest in joining this group.  The Citizen Sounding Board is a group of residents in the area who will be selected at random by posing invitations to households in the area, inviting them to take part.

For more information about the independent community engagement being organised by Involve, go to: 
To express interest in joining the Community Forum, go to 
Inquiries about either the Community Forum or the Citizens’ Sounding Board can go to 

4. This £4.4m investment being delivered through SONI, is the first part of this project. It is currently envisaged that the full project will provide an additional £22.5m, after planning approvals have been secured. 

5. SONI is the electricity transmission system operator for Northern Ireland. SONI plans the future of the electricity grid and operates it every minute of every day. This includes interconnecting to neighbouring grids and running the wholesale electricity market. SONI makes sure that everyone has power when they need it, at the most economic price possible. The transmission grid brings power safely from generators and sends it to the NIE Networks distribution network, which supplies electricity to every home, farm, community and business in Northern Ireland.