A sum of money is collected from all electricity customers through a Public Service Obligation (PSO) which is used to provide funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy schemes. Previously known as the Energy Efficiency Levy (EEL), it is now known as the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP). The strategic objectives of the NISEP are to contribute to the achievement of: Efficiency in the use of energy; Socially and environmentally sustainable long-term energy supplies at best value to customers whilst also having due regard to vulnerable customers.
The principle behind NISEP is that the schemes operate on a not-for-profit basis and for the achievement of the above strategic objectives. Since 2002, as a result of a consultative process, the majority of the funding (80%) has been targeted at vulnerable customers in Northern Ireland. Subsequent consultations have substantiated the view that this level of funding for vulnerable customers should remain whilst fuel poverty levels in Northern Ireland remain high. Since 2013 the NISEP has been rolled forward on an annual basis pending the outcome of the Department for the Economy’s (formerly the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment) review of energy provision in Northern Ireland. Following discussions with the Department for the Economy (DfE), it was agreed that the NISEP should be extended for a further year (to March 2020).