Belfast Telegraph

Coolkeeragh power plant owner's profits hit by gas price hike

By Ryan McAleer

The company that owns a gas-fired electricity generating plant in Londonderry has reported an 82% drop in profits.

New accounts from Coolkeeragh ESB Ltd reveal that pre-tax profits went from £24.2m in 2016 to £4.4m in the 12 months to 2017.

The plant, one of Northern Ireland's largest source of electricity, actually saw its turnover rise from £130.9m to £131.9m last year.

But its profits have been largely slashed by a sharp 24.4% increase in the cost of sales for 2017, which went from £89.1m in 2016 to £110.8m last year.

A spokesman for the power plant's Irish parent company ESB said: "The pre-tax profit for Coolkeeragh ESB Ltd is down due to significant increases in cost of sales for gas and carbon."

Between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017, the price of gas used for electricity generation increased by 26%. The rising cost has had significant impact on the energy sector throughout this year.

Earlier this week energy giant SSE warned that its half-year profits will tumble 50% after suffering the effects of higher gas prices and warmer weather.

Last month Power NI said gas prices were largely responsible for the decision to push electricity prices up by 14% from October. Other gas and electricity providers, including Electric Ireland, SSE Airtricity and Firmus have followed suite.

The accounts for Coolkeeragh ESB also reveal that the company's directors approved the payment of a dividend of £10m for shareholders for 2017. None was paid during 2016.

The sum was deducted from the combination of an £11.9m sum in the firm's profit and loss account together with the £3.38m after tax profit the company recorded in 2017.

The accounts filed for Coolkeeragh ESB Ltd do not include any detail on employees.

The Derry plant generates power through a 400MW combined cycle gas turbine and a 53MW open cycle gas turbine.

Both operate in the Single Electricity Market (SEM), soon to be replaced by the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM), the new wholesale electricity market system for Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The larger turbine sources gas through a pipeline from Scotland. The smaller turbine is fuelled by kerosene.

Belfast Telegraph

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