FRANKFURT Jan 31 (Reuters) - E.ON, Germany's largest utility, and its partners are to decide on the possible closure of the Irsching 5 gas-to-power plant in March, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
German gas-fired power plant operators are suffering from high gas prices and a big drop in wholesale power prices, as well as green power taking precedence on transmission grids, cutting the minimum running hours needed to justify returns.
The 846 megawatts (MW) steam and gas turbine only came on stream in 2010 and is one of the most modern plants of its type.
E.ON owns 50.2 percent of Irsching and local utility Mainova of Frankfurt has 15.6 percent, N-Ergie of Nuremberg, 25.2 percent, and HSE in Darmstadt, 9 percent.
The E.ON spokeswoman said that some 4,000 hours a year were needed but Irsching 5 last year had run at less than half that.
E.ON's outlook on Wednesday showed earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were likely to fall to 9.2-9.8 billion euros this year from 10.8 billion in 2012.
It said it would cut costs, close plants, and sell more assets to cope with falling demand in recession-hit Europe.
Irsching 3, an older gas-fired plant of 415 MW, would have been closed, had it not been assigned to serve as so-called cold reserve for this winter under the watch of German regulator Bundesnetzagentur, which pays fees for the standby facility.
Irsching 4, a third plant at the site of 550 MW, is active. It is subject to the same business rationale but its viablity is not yet being looked at closely, the spokeswoman said. (Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Louise Ireland)