EDF seeks assurances ahead of UK nuclear power plant decision

The chief executive of EDF, anchor shareholder in the development of the Hinkley Point C nuclear powerJB Levy plant is pressing the French government for more financial backing for the project.

Jean Bernard Levy, in a letter to staff at the company, said, “We are negotiating with the [French] state to obtain commitments allowing us to secure our financial position. I am sure that this project is a good project for the group and that in the near future, all the conditions will come together for it to be definitely launched.”

“It is clear that I will not engage in this EDF project as long as these conditions are not met.”

Mr Levy’s statement has prompted Angus MacNeil, chairman of the House of Commons energy committee, to call for the project to be re-examined, however the UK government has responded to say it is “committed” to Hinkley Point, while Prime Minister David Cameron referred to Hinkley Point as a “pillar of (the UK and France’s) bilateral relationship”.

Levy said the fundamentals behind the project were still sound and expressed his confidence in EDF to manage “very large projects”. However the à‚£18bn price tag for Hinkley Point C is larger than the entire value of the French firm and the enormity of the project has seen a final investment decision continually postponed over the last three months. The FT stated that the decision will now be made in April.

Mr Levy also highlighted in his letter that China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), which will own 33.5 per cent of the project, was investing about 8bn euros (à‚£6bn).

Meanwhile the former project director of EDF Hinkley Point C has hit back at claims he left the company as he did not ‘have full faith’ in the project, in a letter to the Times newspaper.

Published on March 10 he letter reads: “Sir, your leader suggests that I left EDF Energy because it I did not appear to have full faith in the Hinkley Point C project.”

“Far from it. The reason for my departure was that I was born and brought up in the US and decided to move back to the US so that my wife and I could return to our family.”

“The economics of the project have stood up to repeated scrutiny. Hinkley will be competitive with all other forms of future electricity generation and its power will be available when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

“Abandoning this would not only deny the UK 7 per cent of potential power supply at a time when it will be most needed but also jeopardises jobs for the 25,000 people who will work on its construction.”

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