Simmons enlisted in push for pan-Ireland electricity market

Simmons & Simmons has landed an instruction as lead adviser on a groundbreaking project to create a pan-Ireland electricity market.

Simmons beat off several rivals to become the go-to firm for Northern Ireland’s Department for Enterprise, Trade and Industry (DETI) in its efforts to create a single wholesale electricity market between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Net savings to the consumer are expected to total £100m.

Energy and infrastructure partners Andrew Ward and Martin Stewart-Smith led the Simmons team, which included senior competition associate Jane Jellis.

Simmons helped draft legislation to coordinate the efforts of both countries’ electricity regulators, which resulted in a memorandum of understanding between the North and the Republic.

“The foundation of a cross-border market will be a system of contracts that electricity traders will need to sign up to,” said Ward.

The Irish government did not instruct outside counsel, but used its attorney general’s office.

The legislation is currently going through Ireland’s Dáil and a draft order will be debated in Westminster later this month. The hope is that a trial will be undertaken by July, with the single market going live by November.

Although efforts are ongoing between Scandinavia and Iberia, it is thought that, if successful, the Ireland tie-up will be the first time that, outside the ambit of the EU, legislation will have been passed between two sovereign states to coordinate their regulators.