Monday, October 19, 2009

Someday, this could all be ours

The Guardian:
Government officials have drawn up secret plans to tax electricity consumers to subsidise the construction of the UK's first new nuclear reactors for more than 20 years, the Guardian has learned.

The planned levy on household bills would add £44 to an annual electricity bill of £500 and contradicts repeated promises by ministers that the nuclear industry would no longer benefit from public subsidies.
Ministers have become concerned that power companies such as E.ON and EDF Energy are reluctant to commit themselves to building nuclear stations because energy prices have fallen and they fear they will not be able to recoup the multi-billion pound cost of building new nuclear stations.

The government believes that only by artificially increasing the cost of electricity generated by coal and gas stations through an additional carbon levy on household bills can nuclear become more competitive and encourage new reactors to be built.

One European utility executive told the Guardian: "New nuclear will not happen without sorting out the carbon price." The Guardian understands that the Office of Nuclear Development (OND), set up by Lord Mandelson's business department, has promised nuclear companies that the price of carbon under the EU emissions trading scheme – now about €13 per tonne – will not be allowed to fall below €30 per tonne, and ideally €40. According to the energy consultancy firm EIC, the new carbon levy would add £44 to the £500 annual electricity bill paid by an average household.
The executive director of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven, said: "Nuclear power has always been a byword for monumental taxpayer handouts. Now the likes of EDF Energy are getting cold feet over the cost of new nuclear stations, it looks like the government is trying to sweeten the deal with public money. This is despite saying categorically that any new reactors will have to survive without subsidy. Without huge financial support, nuclear power doesn't make economic sense. Even the big utilities now admit this."

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