GMB calls for U-turn on Scottish & Southern Energy coal-fired power station closures until new UK Grid capacity is on line

Fiddler's Ferry; set to close
Fiddler’s Ferry; set to close

One of the major trade unions in the UK energy sector has warned the Govt. that Scottish & Southern Energy should not be allowed to close its three of its coal-fired power stations until new electricity generating plant comes online.

As reported earlier today in Scottish Energy News, Perth-based SSE plans to close three coal-fired plants at its Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station, Cheshire with the loss of more than 200 jobs by the end of next month – even if it has to pay more than £30 million in penalties for terminating its Transmission Entry Capacity contract with the Grid.

With capacity margins low – and the winter not over yet – the GMB says the UK otherwise runs either the risk of power cuts, at worst, or excessive ‘bonus’ payments to last-minute standby generators.

GMB Regional Officer Albie McGuigan said: “Last week the Institution of Mechanical Engineers warned that the UK faces an electricity supply gap of up to 55% by 2025 because of the closure of coal and nuclear plants.

“It would now appear that coal –  the cheapest form of energy generation in the UK – is being squeezed out of the market prematurely by either the suppliers wanting more profit or by Government insistence on these stations closing.

“The Government and the suppliers should now stop this nonsense. They should think hard at the consequences of yet another generation hub like Fiddlers Ferry closing three of its four units at a time when there is little or no building of any sustainable replacement capacity such as gas fired CCGTs.

“New nuclear has stalled and is at least 10 years away. Wind power could not sustain the needs for London let alone the UK and is reliant on the weather.

“Lessons need to be learned from 4 November 2015 when National Grid had to invoke special measures to keep the lights on. This happened on what was not a very cold day and before nine power stations close in 2016.

“There should be a U turn. Government should not allow the closure of this power station until new capacity is on stream to keep the lights”.

Last night, a spokesman for OFGEM – the UK regulator said: “This is a competitive market and SSE does not require authority to  close coal-fired power stations”.

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