Airtricity's owner buys Irish arm of Endesa for €320m
SSE, a Scottish company which owns Airtricity, said yesterday that it bought Spanish utility Endesa's Irish operations in a deal worth €488m.
SSE plans to invest in higher capacity and more efficient plants on the sites of four outmoded power stations by installing new gas burning technology which can double output at each plant for the same energy usage.
The Endesa purchase amounts to €320m with the remainder of the cash tied into the future improvement of the power facilities.
SSE said it will start with the construction of a combined gas turbine power station at the site of the old oil burning facility at Great Island in Co Wexford. The plant will use gas brought in by pipeline.
According to SSE, the expansion will lead to Airtricity taking on 100 people directly while 600 will be employed indirectly through the company's construction plans.
Although SSE operates its own development wing, the company yesterday confirmed that the jobs announced will all be Irish.
The old oil burning facility at Great Island generated 240 megawatts while the new facility will almost double this to 460 megawatts.
The acquisition also includes the 208 megawatt plants at Tawnaghmore, Co Mayo, and at Rhode in Co Offaly, while further development options include planning permission for another CCGT plant at the existing 620 megawatt plant at Tarbert, Co Kerry.
The plan is to install the new combined gas turbine technology in all four plants which have operated on oil and coal.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the deal is "a significant announcement for the Irish economy and represents a vote of confidence in Ireland by a major multinational energy company."
"The €488m investment by SSE reflects the degree of certainty and confidence in Ireland that we know is valued by many international investors and companies," he said.
The Taoiseach added, however, that the deal would be subject to the approval of the Competition Authority.
Gregor Alexander, finance director of SSE, said the move would provide "a sustainable, secure and competitive supply of energy to power our rapidly growing energy supply business, Airtricity."
"The completion of this acquisition and that of Phoenix Supply announced in May will make SSE the third largest energy company across the island with 750,000 customers."
SSE first entered the Irish market after acquiring Airtricity in 2008.
The company claims that it has been adding 100 jobs a year to its Irish operations since then and that its increased presence here thanks to the Endesa purchase will bring its total workforce to 900 people in the coming year.
SSE is now the third largest energy utility company in Ireland, with over €1.7bn invested in the last five years.
The plants at Great Island and at Tarbert were among those sold by the ESB to Endesa in 2009, when the state-owned utility company was instructed by the Commission for Energy Regulation, to sell 20pc of its generating assets to the Spanish company.
Endesa, the largest electric utility company in Spain planned to upgrade or replace each power station with more efficient stations. The other plants are located at Tarbert in Co Kerry, Rhode in Co Offaly and at Tawnaghmore in Co Mayo.
Stiff rises in fuel prices since then have increased costs and caused the value of the plants to nosedive.