British power producer Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has announced to continue to operate its 1,995MW Fiddler's Ferry coal-fired plant located in Cuerdley, Cheshire, in North West England, until 31 March 2017.

power plant

Last year, the firm announced plans to close three of the four units at the facility due to prolonged economic and environmental conditions for coal.

The latest decision, however, comes as SSE secured a contract from the National Grid to provide backup power for winter 2016/17.

Under the one-year contract, which is effective from 1 April 2016, SSE will provide ancillary services to the National Grid. It covers one of three available units at the facility which employs 213 people.

SSE will continue to operate two other units as it seeks to enter the station’s capacity into market auctions.

The fourth unit of the power plant has a ‘Supplemental Balancing Reserve’ (SBR) contract for the winter of 2016/17.

SSE wholesale managing director Martin Pibworth said: "Challenging economic and environmental conditions for coal as the UK cleans its electricity mix mean that the longer term future of the site remains uncertain 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."

Separately, SSE said it will close its 2,000MW Ferrybridge C power station in West Yorkshire, UK, on 31 March 2016, following 50 years of electricity production.

The decision to close the Ferrybridge C power plant was announced in May 2015 and comes as SSE seeks to reduce costs.

By 2025, the UK Government announced its plan to close all coal-fired power plants by 2025 as part of its effort to reduce carbon emissions from the electricity sector.

Image: The Fiddler’s Ferry coal-fired power plant in Cuerdley, Cheshire. Photo: courtesy of SSE.