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Utilities launch winter readiness campaign

Utilities launch winter readiness campaign image

Senior executives of Northern Irelandís main utility companies have met with Stormont Minister Danny Kennedy to update him on the annual joint campaign to prepare for any potential disruption caused by extreme weather.

Over the last number of years BT, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), NI Water and Phoenix Natural Gas have been working together regularly to identify ways in which the companies could provide mutual support and aid during periods of severe weather or other unforeseen situations.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said:

“I very much welcome the continuation of this initiative as a pragmatic approach to prepare for emergencies, no matter what may cause them.  The combined breadth of expertise between these companies will ensure that the impact of disruption to the services they provide is minimised for customers.”

“Everyone needs to be prepared for winter.  I commend the proactive efforts of the utilities companies in coming together to share their knowledge and resources to further improve the vital support they deliver to all of us, often in very severe weather conditions.”

Speaking after the high-level Ministerial briefing at Stormont, Michael McKinstry, Phoenix Group Chief Executive and representative of the Joint Utilities group, said:

“Although all of our companies require specialist skills to repair our networks, following an operational audit we have identified a number of areas where we could work together for the mutual benefit of consumers. In particular we have looked at shared resources such as people, equipment, transportation vehicles and access to buildings.”

Experts believe that extreme weather across the UK and Ireland is becoming more commonplace and local government has commended the utility companies for working together in such instances if appropriate.

Photo caption: DRD Minister Danny Kennedy with Alex Crossan (Director, BT), Sara Venning (Chief Executive, NI Water), Michael McKinstry (Chief Executive, Phoenix) and Joe O’Mahony (Managing Director, NIE)

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Installing natural gas central heating does eliminate the need for a separate hot water tank, so it is possible to free up some space where the hot press currently exists. However, it is not a requirement of installing natural gas central heating that your hot water tank is removed, so it is entirely your choice.

Homeowners installing a new central heating appliance will be required to make an application to the Builiding Control department of their local council prior to work commencing.

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Currently Phoenix Natural Gas offers a free connection to the natural gas network, worth up to £750.  Work to install your natural gas appliance, e.g. central heating or gas fire is carried out by an independent Gas Safe registered installer.  Details of these installers can be found here.

There would be more energy saving benefits to change everything at once, but we realise that family budgets may prevent this. It is possible to change over in stages, as financial considerations allow.

As with any major home improvement there will be an element of disruption, although both Phoenix Natural Gas and Gas Safe registered installation companies (registered with Phoenix Natural Gas) will aim to keep this to an absolute minimum.

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This section is currently under review.

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Phoenix Natural Gas is the network operator and not the gas supplier.  Therefore, you will need to speak to your gas supplier.  Details of suppliers can be found here.

On occasion Phoenix Natural Gas will need to carry essential maintenance on the gas meter.  We will endeavour to notify you of this to enable access to your gas appliances after the work is carried out. However, we know that this is not always convenient for consumers. 

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Natural gas is the fuel of choice for many consumers across Europe with 20 million customers in Great Britain alone. Phoenix Natural Gas continually monitors the system for safety and operates a 24-hour emergency response service, 365 days a year. All gas appliances should be correctly installed by a Gas Safe registered installation company and should be checked annually.

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No. All installers who are eligible to carry out natural gas work have been registered with Gas Safe Register, which is the national watchdog for gas safety in the UK. Many of these installers will also be registered with Phoenix Natural Gas, which ensures that you can take advantage of our many offers and incentives for new customers switching to natural gas.

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