THE future of around 100 workers is at risk this morning after it emerged that Teesside Power Station is to drastically scale back production in the wake of cheap energy imports.
The 1,875 megawatt (MW) plant - the largest combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) station in Europe - supplies up to 3% of the entire power needs of England, Scotland and Wales.
However capacity will be cut to just 45MW from April 1 - effectively signaling a partial mothballing of the plant.
International Power, which owns and runs the facility following its merger with GDF Suez last year, refused to rule out redundancies or say how long the site would be running at reduced capacity.
An International Power spokesperson said: “This is a temporary reduction that will result in operating cost savings and is reflective of the weak market conditions in the UK.
“The plant will still retain the flexibility to capture upside from any market recovery.”
Unions expressed concern at the situation and urged bosses at the plant to make their plans clear.
Bob Bolam, North-east regional officer at Unite, said: “We would urge the company to talk to us.
“We have got members in there who need assistance. The company might say they will keep the plant on standby but workers can’t hang around waiting for an upturn.”
Based near the sprawling Wilton International site, the plant uses gas as a fuel to make electricity.
Demand for home-grown electricity has been hit by cheaper foreign imports, however.
In a bid to extract more value from the site, plant bosses wanted to invest heavily in green technology to reduce emissions and boost productivity.
Plans for a £500m upgrade of the plant were first approved by Redcar and Cleveland Council in 2008, with a five-year extension to the planning permission granted last April. Yesterday International Power would not confirm whether the plans had been shelved or put on hold.
The power station opened in 1993 and was formerly owned by US energy giant Enron, which later went bankrupt.
In 2001, during’s Enron’s ownership, three workers were killed in an explosion at the power station.
GDF Suez bought the plant in 2008 from private equity owners Cargill and Goldman Sachs, but ownership of the site has been transferred to International Power following its merger with GDF last year.