UPDATE 1-RWE to close UK coal, oil power plants in March 2013

Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:15am EDT

LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The UK arm of German utility RWE will close two large power plants at the end of March 2013, when they will run out of operating hours restricted under EU environmental laws.

RWE joins rival British power plant operators in closing old and polluting stations earlier than their imposed shut down date as generators plan to utilitise the plants' remaining operating hours this winter, when profits from running coal plants are expected to remain high.

RWE npower said it plans to shut down its 2,000-megawatt Didcot A coal-fired power plant and its 1,000-MW Fawley oil-fired power station, both in the south of England, at the end of the winter period in March.

The company said 270 jobs in total will be affected at the plants.

"We will be working hard with all our people at these sites throughout the coming months, to help identify new opportunities within our business wherever possible," RWE npower said.

"These closures, driven by government policy, reflect the changing shape of power generation in the UK with modern, low carbon power generation replacing older, less efficient power stations."

The EU's large combustion plant directive (LCPD) is forcing high-polluting power plants to close by the end of 2015 or after 20,000 operating hours from January 2008 unless they fitted greenhouse gas reducing equipment.

German utility E.ON also announced the early closures of its 1,940-MW Kingsnorth coal plant scheduled for March 2013 and its 1,380-MW Isle of Grain oil-fired plant in December 2012.

Scottish Power's Cockenzie coal plant will also close its doors at the end of March 2013.