High energy prices helped Ballylumford power plant, controlled by Czech billionaire and football club owner Daniel Křetínský, soar to about €7.2 million last year, new figures show.
EP Ballylumford Ltd owns a gas-fired electricity plant at Larne, Co Antrim, that generates 708 mega watts (MW) of power, some of which is sold in the Republic.
The company is part of Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holdings (EPH), a €25 billion European business 94 per cent owned by Mr Křetínský.
Figures that EP Ballylumford recently filed show that it earned £6.3 million (€7.2 million) after-tax profit last year, turning around a £1 million loss in 2020.
Sales multiplied about 3.5 times to £258.75 million in 2021 from £72.8 million the previous year, the accounts show. Increased gas prices boosted electricity revenues, according to a company report filed with the accounts.
However, it notes that the cost of sales rose at a similar rate. Its figures show that these hit £246.1 million last year from £65.2 million in 2020.
Ballylumford earns revenues from a power purchase deal with a single buyer, as well as from trading electricity on the Irish single market and from capacity payments, paid to the plant for being available to generate and supply energy.
Its accounts state that improved plant performance last year, which cut the number of shut-downs needed, boosted capacity payments and increased its gross margin to £12.6 million from £7 million in 2020.
A once-off £7 million charge stemming from a change in accounting policies in 2020 had hit the company’s profitability that year.
Its accounts show that in 2021, EP Ballylumford Ltd’s operations generated £10.7 million profits, against £100,000 the previous year.
The company did not pay its owner, Czech group EPH’s British subsidiary, EP UK Investments, a dividend.
EP also owns Kilroot power station, making it Northern Ireland’s biggest electricity generator, and a majority stake in Tynagh Energy in Galway.
EPH owns energy businesses in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Britain, Switzerland, Slovakia and Hungary. The group has assets of more than €25 billion and sales of €19 billion a year.
Mr Křetínský has a stake in English premiership football club West Ham United and co-owns Czech club AC Sparta Prague, one of the country’s most successful sides.
EP UK Investments last year threatened legal action over Irish national grid operator EirGrid’s decision to award an emergency electricity generator contract to State-owned ESB, meant to ease the Republic’s energy shortage.
EirGrid dropped the contract after it emerged that two power plants that had been out of action in Cork and Dublin would restart generating electricity last autumn.
EPH bought Ballylumford and Kilroot from US group AES, and 80 per cent of Tynagh from GE Energy and Turkish player, Gama, which held 40 per cent each. Irish businessman Bran Keogh’s Mountainside Partners has the remaining 20 per cent in the Galway generator.
The Czech business did both deals in 2019, when pressure was building on the Irish electricity system as demand increased while the Government planned to close several power plants.