Talks are set to get under way on the future of power plants facing possible closure in the Republic and Northern Ireland with the loss of hundreds of jobs in a shake-up of the electricity market.
Electricity generator Viridian says it may have to close its two power plants at Huntstown, Co Dublin, after one of them failed to secure a contract for new payments from national grid operator EirGrid.
US group AES, owner of a facility Kilroot in Co Antrim, has also warned that would have to close after its generator failed to get a similar deal from System Operator Northern Ireland.
EirGrid confirmed on Tuesday that it was working with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to ensure that if Viridian closed its plants it would be done in a way that would not threaten power supplies.
It is understood that AES has told Northern Ireland’s electricity regulator that it will be seeking to close its facility, which employs 390 people directly and on contract.
Viridian said it continued to believe its plants were “critical to the security of supply in the Dublin area”. The company added that it was in constructive talks with EirGrid and the CRU.
Both plants were called on last year during periods when an ESB generator at Poolbeg in Dublin was not operating.
It is possible that with EirGrid’s agreement the Viridian power stations’ future could be temporarily secured because they are located in an area where demand for electricity is high.
The CRU said there were enough generators to meet demand for power should some companies decide to close plants that will not receive the capacity payments.
However, the regulator noted that in areas where power supplies were under pressure, EirGrid had a process to deal with this.
Some 100 power plants north and south of the Border submitted bids in an EirGrid-run auction that decided which would get capacity payments, meant to support investment in generators, when the all-Ireland electricity market is reorganised in May. Ninety-three of them were successful.