10 May, 2002 – UK power group International Power said on Thursday that Italy was to be its main focus for growth in power plant construction within Europe.

The comments were made by Chief Financial Officer Philip Cox speaking at a media briefing. “We like Italy because it has high wholesale (electricity) prices, a stable market structure and in terms of demand it has one of the highest levels of consumption per person in Europe,” he told reporters.

Even if only half its planned projects get of the ground, International Power would spend around €2.5bn ($2.27bn) on building new power plants said Cox who stressed that no building would take place before power purchase agreements were in place.

The company hoped to build three or four combined cycle gas turbine plants of around 1000 MW capacity, although it had so far applied for permits to build seven in a development plan spanning the length of the country, he said.

International Power remained interested in acquisitions in its core markets – North America, Europe/Middle East and Australia where it had been seeing a healthy flow of new deals in the last three to six months said Cox.

In the U.S., the company expected to finish installing 1395 MW of new capacity this year, bringing total capacity in that market to 4400 MW, said Cox.

Within Europe and the Middle East the company has 2480 MW of capacity with a further 580 MW under construction.

Last month the company said it had about a £1.0bn ($1.46 billion) in cash and credit facilities to spend on assets.