firmus energy has announced a £2 million investment to bring natural gas to Co Tyrone and has just connected its first customer, Mackle Petfoods in Moy.
The landmark connection followed the approval of a licence extension by the Utility Regulator last year. This has allowed firmus energy to bring a choice of fuel and the benefits of natural gas to around 1500 homes and businesses in Moy, Benburb, Blackwatertown, Loughgall and Charlemont areas.
firmus energy’s network already brings natural gas to more than 30 towns and cities across Northern Ireland and, to date, around 28,000 customers in the new gas towns are already enjoying the advantages that it provides. In addition, the company has a further 50,000 customers in the greater Belfast area.
Michael Scott, managing director for firmus energy, said: “We have invested more than £100million in the gas infrastructure across Northern Ireland with a further £80 million earmarked for the ongoing roll-out of the gas distribution networks in our licensed area between 2017-2022.”
John Mackle, managing director, Mackle Petfood said: “From we were first contacted by firmus energy, we were keen to change to natural gas as we recognised that it would be a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to power our operations.
“Established in 1972, Mackle Petfoods has gone from strength to strength over the past 40 years. We believe in putting the best into our pet foods and that includes being responsible about the environment. Greener fuel is very important to us and by switching to natural gas, we will be able to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and cut emissions by approximately 800 tonnes per year, which is the equivalent of taking around 270 family cars off the road.
firmus energy now supplies over 58% of the natural gas consumed* in Northern Ireland and as a result has displaced upwards of 670,000 tonnes of CO2. Year on year, the company continues to connect 4-5000 new commercial and domestic customers, as the demand for natural gas continues to rise in line with its availability in new areas.
Due to the increasing popularity of the fuel, firmus energy has already been granted nine extensions for areas outside the original licensed locations, including Ballyclare, Portstewart, Bessbrook and Bushmills.
Jenny Pyper, Utility Regulator chief executive said: “One of the Utility Regulator’s main roles is to promote the development and maintenance of an efficient, economic and coordinated gas industry in Northern Ireland. Natural gas provides an affordable, cleaner and convenient form of energy and this is a further vote of confidence in the natural gas industry.
“We welcome firmus energy’s extension to Moy and the benefits that natural gas will bring to businesses, including Mackle Petfoods, and households in the local area.
“Since the beginning of last year alone we have approved £62million of investment to extend the natural gas network. This investment will benefit over 30,000 domestic and small business customers and demonstrates the continuing demand for natural gas.”
Michael concluded: “We have now laid more than one million metres of pipes bringing more fuel choice to thousands of properties across Northern Ireland. At least 90% of the major industrial users in our licensed area have connected to natural gas and it is great to be able to connect such an established and well regarded family-owned business.
“We are always looking at opportunities to develop our network across Northern Ireland and are working closely with the Utility Regulator and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to increase the availability of natural gas and the significant environmental and economic returns it offers those who make the switch.
“The company is committed to continued investment of around £10 million each year in the Northern Ireland economy through the ongoing development of its natural gas network into provincial areas, creating employment opportunities for around 300 local contractors, installers and agencies,” he added.
For more information on firmus energy or if you have any comments or queries regarding the natural gas network, please contact the firmus energy customer care line on 0800 032 4567.