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Cost of Kilroot clean up could treble 

One of scandals arising out of electricity privatisation is that NIE customers will have to meet the costs of cleaning up Kilroot power station.   It has been the case since privatisation of the electricity industry that if Kilroot were to install equipment to clean out sulphur from the power station’s emissions it would be entitled to pass on the bill, with NIE in effect acting as the collecting agent.  The US owner of Kilroot, AES, has now invoked a clause in its contract which means any costs which arise from changes in environmental legalisation can be passed on to customers.

The initial estimate of the cost fitting the desulphurisation equipment was £35 million.  This was made up of £30 million for construction and £5 million for contingences.  However, that estimate has risen dramatically.  The construction and associated costs have jumped to £55 million and the contingencies have also risen to £55 million.  NIE customers are now facing a potential bill of £110 million. Such liabilities could have been avoided if electricity had remained a publicly owned utility.  They also could have been avoided had ministers not given approval for the installation of desulphurisation equipment.  This approval flew in the face of advice from environmentalists and the regulator that the best option for a “relatively inefficient and dirty” plant such as Kilroot was the phasing out of production.


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