SSE has announced plans to shut most of its Fiddler’s Ferry coal-fired power plant in April, wiping 1.5 gigawatts of power capacity from the UK grid and worsening the looming energy crisis next winter.
The energy giant said it intended to shut three out of four units at the loss-making Cheshire power station, reneging on a Government subsidy contract to keep them running until 2018-19 and putting 213 jobs at risk.
The move, which the Telegraph revealed SSE was considering last week, was condemned as “extremely disappointing” by the Government, which sought to reassure households the lights would stay on.
“We will continue to work alongside National Grid and Ofgem to take whatever additional steps are necessary to protect our energy supply,” a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said.
UK energy supplies were already forecast to fall to dangerously low levels next winter due to the closure of several other old plants.
Emergency measures have been brought in to bolster supplies after official analysis suggested there could be zero spare capacity in the market, and insufficient power to keep the lights on on a windless day.
John Musk, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, warned UK margins would now be “critically tight for next winter” and forecast this would lead to “extremely volatile” spot power prices.