pounds 500m Welsh plan at National Power

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The Independent Online

Industrial Correspondent

National Power, the generator bidding pounds 2.8bn for Southern Electric, will safeguard or create more than 1,350 jobs thanks to a pounds 500m investment in the conversion of a South Wales power station.

The lion's share of the outlay, at the Pembroke oil-fired station, will be for equipment including sulphur scrubbing systems and special burners to clean up emissions from the plant to meet tight pollution regulations.

The power plant is to burn orimulsion, which environmentalists have described as the world's dirtiest fuel.

The project is subject to planning consent from the Government and final authorisation from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution. The conversion would protect 250 existing full-time jobs at Pembroke and create a further 100. In addition it would employ more than 1,000 people during the construction period.

Keith Henry, National Power's chief executive, said: "The future of the plant relies entirely on getting the go-ahead. The cost of the fuel makes it very competitive and I believe that this marks a very positive step in the development of the UK energy industry."

Mr Henry said National Power hopes to go ahead next year with a fifth combined-cycle gas turbine power station at Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire. The company has two CCGTs in operation, one about to come on stream and a fourth under construction alongside an existing plant at Didcot in Oxfordshire.

Commenting on the takeover bid, Mr Henry rejected suggestions that National Power would try to buy other regional electricity firms if it won Southern Electric.

He said the company planned to become a national supplier of electricity once the market opened up to competition in 1998, but added: "I believe we can do all we want with Southern. I can honestly say that I am not looking at any other regional firm."