Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has extended an IT managed services deal with Capita by another three years.
The contract that sees Capita provide service desk, network management, telecoms, hosting, business continuity planning and disaster recovery services up until 2017, was originally signed in 2009.
NIE owns and manages Northern Ireland’s electricity transmission and distribution networks. It transports electricity to more than 840,000 customers and employs about 1,200 employees.
Finance director at NIE Eddie Byrne said Capita underpin key business processes including customer-facing operations.
“Our decision to extend the contract was taken in light of the high quality of service which has been consistently provided since 2009, the flexibility demonstrated by Capita during the relationship and the competitive price achieved,” he said.
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Capita has supported NIE on a number of IT projects over the years. These include the implementation of an overhauled registration and billing system, as part of the electricity market opening in Northern Ireland.
In 2013, the International Data Corporation (IDC) said Western European utilities are expected to spend $10.4bn on IT in 2013 – 62.9% of which will be dedicated to services.
The IDC Western Europe Utilities Industry IT Spending 2012–2017 forecast predicted software spending would see the most significant boom, growing by 7.4% to reach $3.2bn by 2017.
IT services are expected to grow annually by an average of 4.9%, while IDC predicted minimal growth in the hardware sector, despite the drive for smart energy, which relies on sensor networks. IDC said the biggest spending area for utilities is the maintenance of IT systems and infrastructure, accounting for around 60% of their overall IT budget.
UK utility companies are also planning for the introduction of energy smart meters across the UK as part of the government’s GB Smart Metering Implementation Programme (GB SMIP). The project is underpinned by IT.
With a planned 53 million smart meters installed in homes and businesses across the UK, the GB SMIP aims to allow gas and electricity consumption to be monitored. This will provide information to help consumers and businesses use energy more efficiently. The smart meter project promises to lower bills, reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and help energy suppliers to provision better and prevent shortages.