EU approval for sale of Co Antrim power plants

The sale of the Kilroot (pictured) and Ballylumford power plants to Czech firm EPH has been formally approved by the EU.
Gareth McKeown

THE sale of two prominent Northern Ireland power plants has been approved by the European Union.

It was confirmed yesterday that Czech firm Energetický a Prumyslový Holding (EPH) has closed on its acquisition of the Kilroot and Ballylumford plants in Co Antrim from the AES Corporation after the European Commission granted its approval under the EU Merger Regulation.

International law firm Pinsent Masons advised EPH on the deal and senior associate, Michael Hamill said they were pleased to support the arrival of an ambitious new player into the Irish energy sector.

“EPH is an experienced operator across Europe and we have worked with them particularly in Great Britain so we are pleased to facilitate our client moving into another one of our markets," he said.

"With long established grid infrastructure and planning, Kilroot and Ballylumford are attractive and strategic energy assets, and offer strong opportunity for investment via new technologies. ISEM (Integrated Single Electricity Market) was always going to precipitate a period of change in the Irish market, and this announcement certainly represents some of that early movement.”

In April AES entered into agreements to sell its interests in six sites in the UK and Jordan for a combined $211 million (£162m).

As part of the deal struck, AES agreed to sell its 100 per cent interest in the 708 MW Ballylumford gas-fired power plant and its 99 per cent interest in the 701 MW Kilroot coal- and oil-fired power plant, as well as the 10 MW Kilroot Energy Storage facility.

Speaking at the time AES president and chief executive officer Andrés Gluski said the sale was a result of ongoing company consolidation.

“In line with our business strategy, we continue to reduce the number of countries in which we operate and focus our growth efforts in fewer markets, and especially in renewables, energy storage and LNG," he said.

In November Kilroot Power Station was given a one-year contract to provide power to the Northern Ireland grid, but the loss of 85 jobs was confirmed at neighbouring Ballylumford.

The agreement between AES and the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) involved the closure of two generating sites at Ballylumford.

AES failed to land a contract to supply the new integrated single electricity market (ISEM) in January 2018.

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