THE country’s largest domestic energy supplier has been urged to show “more loyalty” to staff whose jobs are under threat after it announced plans to shut two power stations in the region.
The announcement that the two sites in north Lincolnshire are to close came as British Gas owner Centrica revealed profits had fallen 35 per cent to £1.75bn in a “very difficult year” for the firm.
The two gas-fired power stations at Killingholme and Brigg, which employ 60 staff between them, failed to win a contract in the Government’s first capacity market auction, which aims to ensure there is always enough power generating capacity to meet demand, even when intermittent renewables are generating less electricity.
The stations are both over 20-years-old and said to be loss-making. Cheap coal from the United States, whose energy market has been transformed by shale gas, is said to be another factor. Centrica said it had taken the decision not to sell a third plant, the South Humber Bank power station as offers made “did not reflect the value that we place on these operations”.
The announcement comes days after Britain’s third largest refinery, the nearby Lindsey Oil Refinery, confirmed it was cutting capacity by half and axeing 180 jobs in a bid to ensure its long-term future. Consultation will start with staff at Brigg and Killingholme in the coming weeks, with a possibility that the plants may not shut before 2016.
Simon Merriweather, the managing director of Centrica Energy’s Power Generation business, said: “We know this is an unsettling time for the team and the news will create a great deal of uncertainty but we will be doing everything we can to support them in the coming weeks.”
But Brigg Tory councillor Carl Sherwood said: “There’s a biowaste plant next door being built that will create 60 jobs and produce power, but then they are shutting this one which is within 50 metres. It doesn’t stack up, although one has subsidies, the other doesn’t.
“Centrica has lost a lot of money, but they still made £1.7bn profit. I think they should show some loyalty to their workforce.”
Labour MP for Scunthorpe Nic Dakin said he would be visiting the station at Brigg today, and added: “At the moment they are talking potential closure. I would hope to discuss all possible options. If people lose their jobs that’s bad news for them and their families, however the people who are likely to be affected are highly skilled and I would hope with other developments locally there would be positive futures for them.”