Clare Spottiswoode, who was Director General of Ofgas from 1993 to 1998, is to take up a position as non-executive director of British Energy from December 1, the privatized nuclear power producer announced yesterday. The role puts Ms Spottiswoode in the opposing camp to her successor, Callum McCarthy, who is trying to beef up regulation of electricity generators, in the face of opposition from British Energy and other power producers.
Ofgem is attempting to introduce tougher rules to tackle market manipulation by generators who control electricity supply into the Neta. A previous attempt by the regulator to impose tougher controls was thrown out last year by the Competition Commission following protests from British Energy and AES, a large US power group.
British Energy, the country’s biggest generator, has strongly opposed the move, saying it “is unnecessary, would increase regulatory risk and stifle free competition”.
As gas regulator, Clare Spottiswoode presided over the break up of the state-owned gas industry and introduced big cuts in gas transmission charges.
Her appointment at British Energy comes at a time when the company face a strike by power workers over a pay dispute which threatens to force the temporary shutdown of its eight plants – capable of producing a fifth of the UK’s energy needs. The unions have agreed a process of arbitration and are scheduled to meet ACAS tomorrow.
Robin Jeffrey, Executive Chairman of British Energy, said, “I am delighted that Clare is joining the British Energy Board, further strengthening our top team. Clare knows the energy scene inside out and is one of the most experienced people in the UK in energy regulation.”
Clare Spottiswoode said, “I’m very pleased to be joining the board of British Energy at this crucial point in the company’s development, for two reasons. Firstly, decisions need to be taken soon on the potential for replacing the UK’s existing nuclear stations with a new generation of nuclear power stations – and I’d very much like to be part of that. Secondly, British Energy is now an international energy company, with real opportunities to develop its business, particularly in North America. I’m joining at a very exciting time.”
British Energy yesterday published details of its submission to the review being conducted by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee into the government’s future policy concerning radioactive waste.
The company is concerned that the consultation may be too lengthy and warns the government against using the process as an excuse for delaying important decisions.
It reiterated its support for the role of nuclear generation as a way of combating global warming and its support for the setting up of a body responsible for the entire stockpile of nuclear waste in the UK.
British Energy also called for a moratorium on the reprocessing of AGR fuel, which it says is an unnecessary and expensive exercise. The company is currently obliged to reprocess this fuel as BNFL are not prepared to provide storage.