Originally built, owned and operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), Drax Power Station was constructed and commissioned in two stages. Stage one (units 1, 2 and 3) was completed in 1974, some 12 years later in 1986 stage two (units 4, 5 and 6) was completed. It is the newest and most efficient coal-fired power station in the UK.
Each of the units has a capacity of 660MW, giving a total capacity of just under 4,000MW, making Drax the largest coal-fired power station in the UK. In 1988, Drax became the first power station to invest in the retrofit of flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) equipment, making Drax the cleanest coal-fired power station in the UK.
In 1990, the electricity industry of England and Wales was privatised under the Electricity Act 1989. Three generating companies and 12 regional electricity companies were created. As a result of privatisation, Drax Power Station came under the ownership of National Power, one of the newly formed generating companies.
Over the years that followed privatisation the map of the industry changed dramatically. One significant change was the emergence of vertically integrated companies, combining generation, distribution and supply interests. In certain cases, it became necessary for generation assets to be divested, and so in 1999 Drax Power Station was acquired by the US-based AES Corporation for £1.87 billion.
A partial re-financing of Drax was completed in 2000, with £400 million of senior bonds being issued by AES Drax Holdings, and £267 million of subordinated debt issued by AES Drax Energy.
Increased competition, over-capacity and new trading arrangements contributed to a significant drop in wholesale electricity prices, which hit an all time low in 2002. Many companies experienced financial problems, and Drax Power Station’s major customer went into administration triggering financial difficulties for Drax. Following a series of standstill agreements with its creditors, the AES Corporation and Drax parted company in August 2003.
During the restructuring, a number of bids were received from companies wishing to take a stake in the ownership of Drax, but creditors voted overwhelmingly to retain their interest in Drax. In December 2003, the restructuring was completed and Drax came under the ownership of a number of financial institutions.
Almost exactly two years later, on 15 December 2005, Drax underwent a re-financing and shares in Drax Group plc were listed on the London Stock Exchange for the first time.
In March 2009, Drax acquired Ipswich based Haven Power Limited, an electricity supply company established specifically to serve the energy needs of business customers.