Green electricity providers reject surcharges for invoices for new nuclear power plants


Green energy suppliers are protesting the prospect of adding a surcharge to household bills for new nuclear power plants in the UK if their customers make a conscious choice not to support the divisive technology.

The British ministers want to introduce a law in the autumn that will enable the financing of a large nuclear power plant planned for Sizewell on England’s east coast via a “regulated asset base” model. The program would mean that households, regardless of their supplier, finance the construction of the £ 20 billion facility with a mark-up on their energy bills.

Households already pay a number of policy costs through their electricity bills, such as subsidies for wind and solar systems, but a nuclear levy would be particularly difficult to bear for companies that offer their customers “100 percent renewable energy” and that do nuclear power not included.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, the first company in the UK to offer green electricity to its customers, told the Financial Times: “It’s crazy that we should all have to pay this subsidy for at least a decade of construction, not for the electricity it produces. ”

“The government is reluctant to self-fund nuclear projects, so Sizewell allows [C] Access to the RAB [regulated asset base] System just puts the cost on consumers – even those who have switched to renewable energy, and that’s just unfair, ”added Vince.

Kit Dixon, Policy Manager at Good Energy, the UK’s first to offer 100 percent renewable electricity to its customers, said “we should be deeply concerned” that the nuclear industry may find such a deal to build expensive new facilities “with little incentive.” “It is offered to deliver on time or within budget”.

“We have to stop looking at customer bills as a kind of ATM for foolish projects,” said another energy chief, who did not want to be named.

EDF, the French state-owned utility developing the Sizewell C facility in Suffolk, argues that a regulated asset-base model would result in lower financing costs and ultimately “significant savings for consumers.” The “steady” upfront returns offered by the regulated mechanism would enable it to attract funding from pension and infrastructure funds, which accept lower returns in return for lower risk.

The model will be used to build other infrastructures in the UK including energy networks and the Thames Tideway “Super Sewer” in London.

EDF Energy, the UK branch of the French energy company, said it had done its own analysis, which suggests that “new nuclear energy can save up to £ 5 billion a year compared to a low-carbon energy system without it”.

It added, “If you pit nuclear and renewables against each other, you risk additional costs for consumers and do no service to the planet. Wind, nuclear and solar are required for a reliable net zero future. “

Critics of the regulated asset-base model warn against exposing households to cost overruns, which have proven to be common in the nuclear industry.

Environmental groups oppose nuclear power on the grounds that it is more expensive than technologies like offshore wind and highly toxic waste that takes more than 100,000 years to decay.

Bulb, the UK’s seventh largest player by market share, also warned in response to a consultation on the regulated asset-base model that using the nuclear finance mechanism “does not protect customers who opt for renewable energy tariffs, but costs elevated”. their bills for a technology from which they will not benefit directly ”.

Companies that offer 100 percent green electricity either generate their own electricity from sources such as sun and wind or buy certificates from renewable electricity producers to cover their supply, although the latter practice is branded as “greenwashing” by some consumer groups.

The UK business division said the regulated asset-base model remains “a credible option with the potential to lower the cost of new nuclear projects for consumers by helping to attract key private investment”.

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