THE ESB is hoping to complete the sale of two of its electricity power stations by this autumn, with Spanish energy company Endesa SA the current favourite to land the assets.
The company has been looking to offload power stations since last October when, as part of its asset study programme, the ESB identified the desire to divest up to 1,500 megawatts of power via the sale or closure of a number of stations.
Four electricity generating stations were identified, at Tarbert, Co Kerry; Marina, Co Cork, Great Island in Co Wexford and Poolbeg in Dublin.
However, it is understood that since the ESB put out feelers in the marketplace to see what interest existed, the company has decided to sell only the Tarbert and Great Island stations at this time.
It is still considering what course of action to take in the long-term on the generating stations at Poolbeg and Marina.
An ESB spokesperson said yesterday that the company had no formal comment to make on the matter, but did confirm that it was now in the final bidding process for the two power stations up for sale.
It is believed that Endesa SA, a subsidiary of Spanish power company Enel SpA, is now the front-runner to buy the ESB assets, which constitute less than 20% of Ireland’s electricity capacity.
The Spanish company has reportedly lodged a bid of around €450 million in the last couple of weeks.
Recent speculation here had suggested that the likes of German energy giant E.on AG, Star Capital Partners, International Power, new Airtricity owner Scottish & Southern Energy and — closer to home — Bord Gáis and Viridian Group had all lodged bids for the assets.
The ESB plan to divest some of its assets is part of the Government’s intention to further reduce its hold on the country’s energy market.
Tarbert and Great Island power stations were both built in the late 1960s.
Great Island covers 168 acres and generates 240 megawatts through the burning of 1,500 tonnes of oil per day.
In the early 1970s, Great Island was generating 20% of Ireland’s total electricity requirements.
If Endesa is successful in its bid, it would mark the first foray outside of southern Europe and Latin America for the Spanish company.
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