US firm AES will become the biggest energy producer in Northern Ireland after announcing it is to buy Ballylumford power station.
Virginia-based AES, which already owns the Kilroot plant in Carrickfergus, has agreed to pay BG Group £99m for Premier Power — the company that runs the gas-fired generation plant at Ballylumford near Larne.
The transaction brings together two of the province’s largest energy generators, both of which entered the power market in Northern Ireland when it was privatised in 1992.
Ballylumford sells into the Irish Single Electricity Market, with the majority of its output contracted to NIE Energy.
It accounts for around 9% of the island of Ireland’s electricity supply and employs 170 people. Coal and oil-fired power station Kilroot produces about a third of Northern Ireland’s electricity and employs around 140 people.
After the deal closes, AES will operate around 15% of the generation capacity across the Republic and Northern Ireland.
The deal is still to receive approval from regulators but is expected to be completed before the end of the year.