A US energy-investment firm has emerged as a bidder for four Irish power stations -- including one of the country's largest, at Tarbert, Co Kerry.
ContourGlobal, which is based in New York and already owns a small electricity plant in the North, is understood to be in talks with Endesa Ireland to buy its four facilities in Ireland.
Endesa Ireland acquired the plants in 2008 from the ESB for €450m.
However, they're likely to fetch substantially less now.
Endesa Ireland, which is owned by Italy's Enel, owns the 620-megawatt plant in Tarbert, although it doesn't currently operate at this capacity; a 240-megawatt oil-fired plant at Great island in Co Wexford; a 102-megawatt facility at Rhode, Co Offaly; and a 102-megawatt plant at Tawnaghmore in Co Mayo.
Endesa, which was almost fully acquired by Enel in mid-2009, originally put the Irish assets up for sale early last year.
However, Deutsche Bank was recently hired by Endesa to conduct a more formal sale process.
Will Ainger, the co-editor of industry publication 'SparkSpread', which first reported the ContourGlobal bid, said the American firm is likely to pay much less for the Irish power plants than Endesa.
"ContourGlobal has a reputation for picking up power plants on the cheap and it is likely that the company could acquire Endesa Ireland for considerably less than Endesa paid for the business two years ago," he said.
Endesa revealed plans for a major upgrade of the Tarbert site after it acquired it. The facility is over 40 years old. Endesa wanted to build a new combined gas-cycle generation plant there.