SSE has secured an ancillary services contract from National Grid for one of the three available units at Fiddler’s Ferry. The future of the power station remains under review, but the firm said it would keep its transmission lines to National Grid open for the next financial year and bid for capacity market contracts for the following year.
The fourth unit already has a Supplemental Balancing Reserve contract for the coming winter.
SSE’s managing director for wholesale Martin Pibworth said the plant’s long-term future remained uncertain given the headwinds facing coal generators, “but we are very pleased to have secured this 12 month contract. We will continue our consultation with employees as we complete our review of the operational requirements of the station.”
SSE confirmed in February that it was mulling early closure of three of four units at the 2GW Cheshire plant following press speculation. The move followed its failure to secure a capacity market contract for the station in the 2019/20 capacity auction.
Had it decided to cease operations, SSE would shut down three units on Friday (1 April).
The government is currently reviewing the capacity market to try and ensure new gas plant is built. It has tabled changes that would stop diesel farms from winning contracts. Whether any rule changes will affect the success of coal operators in future auctions remains to be seen.