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  • by Karma Loveday

Utility Regulator issues price control for Northern Ireland Water with wastewater capacity in focus

Northern Ireland’s Utility Regulator has issued a final price control for Northern Ireland Water which features a step change increase in capital investment, particularly targeted at addressing lack of capacity in wastewater systems and the associated constraint on development.

The PC21 determination covered the 2021-27 period and set out the outputs Northern Ireland Water must deliver as well as price limits for non-domestic customers. The Utility Regulator listed the key outputs from the control as:

• capital investment of £2.1bn, which is an increase of 74% from the previous price control (PC15) – "This will begin to address the lack of capacity in wastewater systems and address development constraints in 49 areas by the end of PC21”;

• a reduction in the cost of financing investment that will save consumers £135m;

• typical bills for unmeasured, non-domestic consumers will fall in real terms by the end of the six-year period;

• improved efficiency – "by the end of PC21, Northern Ireland Water will operate at an equivalent level of efficiency to the upper quartile of similar companies in England and Wales today... these improvements in operational efficiency will save consumers £62m during the price control period”;

• improved service, including on pressure, interruptions to supply and flooding pollution incidents and “new consumer service measures and targets will drive incremental and continuous improvement, with an increased focus on vulnerable consumers”; and

• a new consumer protection programme – “Our determination recognises that Northern Ireland Water needs to provide vulnerable domestic consumers with additional support, bespoke regulatory, and company interventions.”

Commenting on the price control determination, Utility Regulator chief executive, John French (pictured), said:“This is a challenging price control for Northern Ireland Water, but builds on Northern Ireland Water’s continued journey of improvement and further improving the progress made during previous price controls.

“It provides an opportunity for Northern Ireland Water to begin to address the lack of capacity in Northern Ireland’s sewerage networks and wastewater treatment works which has been constraining the development of both housing and industry across our region. This will however require a stepped increase in investment and presents a wider challenge on how economic development can be supported while the necessary investment is delivered.”


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