A delay of more than 7 months has been proposed for the go-live of the I-SEM, the new wholesale electricity market for the island of Ireland.

Many readers will be aware that the Single Electricity Market (SEM) – the wholesale electricity market for the island of Ireland – is currently undergoing a major programme of amendment in order to make it consistent, and more integrated, with the target model for electricity markets that is emerging at EU level.  This amendment project is known as I-SEM (i.e. “Integrated SEM”), and is being led by the energy regulators in Ireland (Commission for Energy Regulation) and Northern Ireland (Utility Regulator), with support from electricity system operators.

Commencement of trading in the I-SEM had been scheduled to occur on 1 October 2017.  However, in response to the recommendations of a project “stock-take” report that they had commissioned, the CER and the Utility Regulator yesterday published their decision to “re-profile” the I-SEM project.  As part of this re-profiling, the commencement of trading in the I-SEM is now proposed to be delayed, and to occur instead on Wednesday 23 May 2018.

The regulators point out specifically that for the moment, this delay remains a proposal only.  However, they also note that the new commencement date has been approved in the relevant government departments in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, and that it is therefore not expected to change further as a result of the change control process that accompanies all major I-SEM project decisions.

Given the complexity of the I-SEM project (both in the execution of the project, and in the final form of the market that is emerging from the process), a 7-month delay in the I-SEM “go-live” date will perhaps not come as a surprise to existing SEM participants or interested parties.  A positive view of the decision is, indeed, that it enhances the credibility of the revised I-SEM project plan and can, therefore, be regarded as a source of comfort to the many market participants for whom I-SEM will carry significant investment implications.

Further information is available at the “SEM Committee” website maintained jointly by the energy regulators at https://goo.gl/sYoRK0