SSE to buy four Irish power plants from Endesa

 

Airtricity owner, Scottish Southern Energy (SSE), is poised to buy four Irish power plants in a deal valued at close to €500 million.

SSE confirmed yesterday that it has agreed to buy the four gas-fired electricity generating plants owned by Spanish operator, Endesa in the Republic.

The Scottish company will go ahead with plans to replace existing plants at two of the sites, Great Island in Co Wexford and Tarbert in Co Kerry, with modern, gas-fired electricity generators.

The total investment involved, including the purchase and construction of the new plants, will come to €488 million, SSE said yesterday.

Along with Great Island and Tarbert, SSE is also buying smaller plants at Tawnaghmore in Co Mayo and Rhode in Co Offaly.

Endesa paid the ESB €450 million to buy the four plants in 2009, and committed to spending the same amount again to replace the Great Island and Tarbert facilities with new power stations.

SSE plans to continue this work. The new plant at Great Island is partly built, and Gregor Alexander, the Scottish company’s finance director and lead director for Ireland, said it would be up and running in 2014.

The new plant will have a capacity of 460 mega watts (MW), enough electricity to power around half a million homes and will replace the existing oil-burning generator, whose capacity is 240MW.

A site for the new facility at Tarbert has been cleared. This will replace the existing 600MW oil burning generator with a smaller gas-fired station.

Construction on both sites will employ 600 workers at peak. At the same time, SSE is planning to create 100 new jobs across its existing businesses.

The four power plants that it is buying employ around 140 people, who originally transferred over from ESB. Mr Alexander said yesterday that they would be kept on at their existing pay and conditions.

The deal is subject to approval by the Competition Authority, the State’s mergers and acquisitions watchdog.

If the authority approves the purchase, it will make SSE the third biggest energy company operating in Ireland after State-owned ESB and Bord Gáis.

The Scottish utility already owns Airtricity, for which it paid close to €1 billion in early 2008, a services business responsible for public lighting maintenance, and Phoenix Gas in Northern Ireland, which it bought last year.

It has 750,000 electricity and natural gas customers and owns wind farms with a total generating capacity of 500MW. It has a further 1,000 MW at various stages of planning and development.

The acquisition and new jobs announced yesterday will bring employment at the Scottish group’s Irish operations to 900. Mr Alexander said yesterday that it has invested €1.7 billion in Ireland to date.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended the announcement of the SSE-Endesa deal yesterday. He welcomed the acquisition saying that it was a vote of confidence in the Irish economy and energy market.

Endesa put the four plants on the market last year.