Will government continue to advance the threat of expensive nuclear pollution in Somerset?
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Alex Barker in Brussels and Pilita Clark in Paris (FT) follow up the European Commission state aid’s investigation raising serious objections to £17.6bn of potentially wasteful public support for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, southwest England that could provide 7% of the UK’s electricity.
In a January letter to ministers, Joaquín Almunia, the EU competition chief, had said that – at that point – he could not see why the project is fundamentally different from plants in Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland “which have been undertaken without any support”.
A draft European Commission decision, seen by the Financial Times, adds tougher profit clawback clauses to the power plant contract.
The commission, the UK Department of Energy and EDF declined to comment on the leaked findings.
The decision is before the outgoing college of EU commissioners, which is divided over nuclear issues. The commission is split over the issue of nuclear power. Commissioners from Germany and Austria, in particular, harbour strong concerns, knowing that the case will set a precedent that would support new nuclear projects in eastern Europe.
The draft decision will be debated in coming weeks. Any delays could disrupt efforts by EDF to find outside investors for the project.
The UK government is still undertaking to pay EDF £92.50 per MWh for the electricity output from Hinkley Point C – roughly twice the current wholesale price of power – guaranteeing a minimum revenue as it is considered to be a low carbon power generator. The government will get half of the first £1bn of gains from construction, rising to 75% of any profits above £1bn.
Michael Pollitt of Judge Business School said: “What consumers finally pay will be contingent on how much of that gain they receive, if it materialises.” Andrea Carta of Greenpeace said: “Taxpayers would be left paying for one of the most expensive power stations in the world and for the consequences when things go wrong, while EDF rakes in subsidies”.
Posted on October 3, 2014, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, EU, Finance, Government, Lobbying, Planning, Taxpayers' money, Vested interests and tagged Hinkley Point, Joaquín Almunia EU competition chief, Nuclear power. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.