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No To Fiddlers Ferry Closure

Thursday, February 4, 2016

GMB Say Government Should Not Allow Fiddlers Ferry Power Station Closure Until New Capacity Is On Stream To Keep The Lights On

Lessons need to be learned from 4th November 2015 when National Grid had to invoke special measures to prevent a blackout before nine stations close this year says GMB.

GMB, the union for energy and engineering construction workers, commented on announcement by SSE that it is entering into consultation with workers at Fiddler's Ferry Power Station, Cheshire on closing three of the four units at the plant. See notes to editors for copy of the story on Press Association plus GMB response to warning by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers that the UK faces an electricity supply gap of up to 55% by 2025.  

Albie McGuigan, GMB Regional Officer, 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 CCGT's.

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 4th 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 on.”

End

Contact: Albie Mc Guigan 07860 593479 or Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810 or Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for energy on 07860 606137 or GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

1 Copy of story on Press Association dated 3rd February 2016.

A coal-fired power station is set to close much of its operation by April under plans announced by energy company SSE.

The firm said it was entering into consultation with employees and stakeholders at Fiddler's Ferry Power Station, Cheshire, to close three of the four units at the plant.

While no final decision had been taken, SSE said it expects the three units would close by April 1, 2016, in the face of "challenging economic and environmental conditions for coal" as the UK shifts to cleaner power generation.

The fourth unit would be unaffected as it has a contract to ensure sufficient power is available to the grid, under the Government's capacity market, for next winter.

The ageing coal fired station, which employs 213 people, has been incurring substantial losses in recent years, and this is expected to continue through to 2020.

The announcement comes after ministers said they wanted to see an end to UK coal fired power generation by 2025, if a shift to gas - a cleaner form of fossil fuel for generating electricity - could be assured.

Paul Smith, SSE managing director, generation, said of the plant's proposed closures: "We are fully aware of the impact this will have on our colleagues, their families, and the community and our priority is to support staff during the consultation process.

"The reality is the station is ageing, its method of generating electricity is being rendered out of date and it has been and is expected to continue to be loss-making in the years ahead.

"Sustaining for too long loss-making power stations would undermine SSE's ability to invest in modern generation plant in the UK."

Fiddler's Ferry failed to secure a contract for electricity provision in 2019/20 in the capacity market auction in December 2015.

Three of the four units had won capacity market payments for 2018/2019, but it was projected to incur "unsustainable losses" even with the contract - and the company said it made more sense to pay a fine of around £33 million for breaking the agreement.

SSE said it was still committed to generating power in the UK, and has a long-standing objection to shift generation from coal and gas to gas and renewables.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We are clear that delivering energy security for our families and businesses is non-negotiable.

"There will be no impact on this winter and action has already been taken to secure extra capacity for next winter. We will continue to work alongside National Grid and Ofgem to take whatever additional steps are necessary to protect our energy supply.

"SSE's intention to break their contract is extremely disappointing and they will have to pay a significant penalty."

2 Copy of GMB press release dated 29th January 2016

GMB SAYS INSTITUTION OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS IS RIGHT TO WARN OF 55% ELECTRICITY SUPPLY GAP BY 2025 DUE TO POWER STATION CLOSURES

Government needs to spell out a proper long term plan for replacement power stations - they can't keep kicking this can down the road much longer says GMB

GMB, the union for energy and engineering construction workers, commented on the warning from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers that the UK faces an electricity supply gap of up to 55% by 2025 because of the closure of coal and nuclear plants. See notes to editors for copy of report on Press Association.

Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for energy, said "This report is right to highlight the looming shortage of electricity generation within the next decade. That's why GMB and others have consistently called for more direct government investment and incentives for the private sector to invest in securing the nation’s future energy supply.

The government needs to spell out a proper long term plan to replace closing stations - they can't keep kicking this can down the road much longer.

GMB is hopeful that Hinkley Point C will be given the final green light very soon after so many years of delays."

End

3 Copy of story on Press Association 26 Jan 2016

POWER PLANT CLOSURES 'COULD LEAD TO 55% GAP IN ELECTRICITY SUPPLY BY 2025'

By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent

The UK faces an electricity supply gap of up to 55% by 2025 because of the closure of coal and nuclear plants, the government is being warned.

Plans to plug the gap by building combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants are "unrealistic", according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

A report detailed the impact of closing all coal-fired power stations by 2025, ageing nuclear stations stopping generating power, and growing demand for power.

The institution said the UK does not have the resources or the skilled workers to build the number of power stations needed.

The report's author, Dr Jenifer Baxter, said: "The UK is facing an electricity supply crisis. As the UK population rises and with the greater use of electricity use in transport and heating it looks almost certain that electricity demand is going to rise.

"However, with little or no focus on reducing electricity demand, the retirement of the majority of the country's ageing nuclear fleet, recent proposals to phase out coal-fired power by 2025 and the cut in renewable energy subsidies, the UK is on course to produce even less electricity than it does at the moment.

"We cannot rely on CCGTs alone to plug this gap, as we have neither the time, resources nor enough people with the right skills to build sufficient power plants. Electricity imports will put the UK's electricity supply at the mercy of the markets, weather and politics of other countries, making electricity less secure and less affordable.

"Currently there are insufficient incentives for companies to invest in any sort of electricity infrastructure or innovation and worryingly even the Government's own energy calculator does not allow for the scenarios that new energy policy points towards. Under current policy, it is almost impossible for UK electricity demand to be met by 2025."

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "We are the first country to propose an end date to using unabated coal and we will do so in a way that maintains energy security, which comes first.

"New gas power stations are being built and we are investing in cleaner energy, such as nuclear and shale gas, to ensure hardworking families and businesses have secure, affordable energy supplies they can rely on now and in the future."

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