Ballylumford and Kilroot power stations are sold by US owner to Czech firm as part of $211m deal
Northern Ireland's biggest power stations Ballylumford and Kilroot have been sold by their American owners as part of a $211m deal.
AES is selling the assets to Czech company Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding (EPH) for an undisclosed sum.
It's off-loading a 100% interest in the 708 MW Ballylumford gas-fired power plant, and its 99% interest in the 701 MW Kilroot coal-and-oil-fired power plant and storage facility.
Earlier this month AES won new contracts for electricity generation for 2022-2023 for the coal-burning units at Kilroot. The plant had previously been under threat of closure.
Economist John Simpson said the deals brought an ambitious new energy player into the field. EPH is already heavily involved in four power stations in Britain, he said.
"EPH has started to convert Eggborough Power Station to use gas instead of coal. It is converting Lynemouth Power Station to burn biomass.
"In addition, EPH owns gas-burning power stations at South Humber and Langage, which were bought from Centrica.
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"The sale of AES plants comes just a year after the local AES company posted an impairment cost of £132m against the local operations."
Mr Simpson said that one shareholder, Daniel Kretinsky, owns 94% of EPH.
Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said he did not believe the new owner would ring in changes for industry consumers.
"For us, the ownership is irrelevant. Some of my members are enduring the second most expensive energy prices in Europe, thanks in large part to the cost of power generation.
"In the past year our members have seen prices rise in excess of a third compared to their renewal in 2017.
"This all comes with consequences, including jobs losses, wage settlements and investments delayed or shelved.
"For now we very much doubt the new owners of Ballylumford and Kilroot will see consumers significantly benefit.
"Indeed, we expect our firms to endure less competitive prices as the investors try to recoup their investment."
AES' deals for a total of $211m also includes two thermal power plants and an under-construction solar plant, all in Jordan.
Those plants are being sold to Nebras Power Investment Management and Mitsui and Co Ltd.
Andrés Gluski, AES president and chief executive officer, said: "We are proud of our many years of successful operations in Jordan and the United Kingdom.
"In line with our business strategy, we continue to reduce the number of countries in which we operate and focus our growth efforts in fewer markets, and especially in renewables, energy storage and LNG."
AES deals are expected to close later this year.
The sale in Jordan is subject to approvals from project lenders and the sale of Ballylumford and Kilroot is subject to regulatory approval by the European Commission.