Gas network operators have marked a return to routine work by completing more than 200 new customer connections across Northern Ireland in the last week, with similar numbers expected going forward.
firmus energy, Phoenix Natural Gas and SGN Natural Gas had been providing only essential maintenance and emergency services during the lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The companies are now investing around £1million per week on new connections and on the construction of their respective networks to extend natural gas to new customers.
Robust safety protocols are in place to ensure that the thousands of gas industry staff are following the government’s safe working guidelines.
As a result of the recent work, there are now around 275,000 customer gas connections in Northern Ireland, with a plan to extend this to over 320,000 by 2022.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “I am pleased that the gas industry is once again open for new business. This is a welcome boost at a time when we are starting to rebuild from the devastating impact this virus has had on our economy.
“On our pathway to net zero carbon, connecting more customers to gas is reducing emissions significantly as natural gas is the lowest carbon fossil fuel.
“I want to take this opportunity to once again thank the gas industry for working very hard during the pandemic to ensure a safe and secure supply of energy for householders.”
Utility Regulator Chief Executive Jenny Pyper said: “Fantastic progress has been made in developing the natural gas network across Northern Ireland. More consumers than ever can now choose natural gas, which provides an affordable, cleaner and convenient form of energy.
“It is very encouraging that, despite the impact of the pandemic, our natural gas industry is continuing to safely connect new customers across Northern Ireland and supporting the ambition to further grow the natural gas network.”