The Commission for Energy Regulation said yesterday that it had selected two preferred bidders: Limerick-based Aughinish Alumina and the Galway-based Tynagh Energy Joint Venture. There had originally been six bidders for the contracts. Apart from Aughinish and Tynagh the bidders were: AES Electric; Ireland Power Energy; Scottish & Southern Energy/Bord Gais Eireann; and Viridian Power.
Viridian currently operates the Republic’s only independent power station at Huntstown in north county Dublin. Viridian is the biggest player in the Northern Ireland electricity market and has made major inroads here by supplying the likes of Marks & Spencer and the Four Seasons Hotel.
The winning bidders will have to build new plants capable of generating up to 500 megawatts of electricity between them. The winners can secure contracts with the ESB for a total of 4,500 megawatts over 10 years which would potentially be worth more than 1.5 billion in revenues.
Mr Reeves said: “Should the preferred bidders become successful bidders, the contracts represent a significant opportunity to address generation requirements from 2005.”
Ireland is one of just a few EU countries who are still seeing a huge demand for electricity with high single digit growth expected in the next couple of years compared to little or no expansion in other counties.
Bidders are competing on the basis of price, after having met a number of technical, financial and regulatory requirements. The process is expected to be completed by December 17, Mr Reeves said.