Labour: government incompetence leaves bill payers paying premium price with no guarantees Hinkley will deliver in time for power crunch
As EDF make a final investment decision on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station today, Shadow Energy Secretary Barry Gardiner said:
“EDF have mismanaged the Hinkley project; but the government has mismanaged the public interest in it.
“The government committed to paying a price over the next 35 years that was far too high when the cost of other low carbon energy from solar and wind has been falling to record lows. And critically they did so without any guarantees that the energy would be there when the country actually needed it.
“Labour asked Ministers two years ago to come up with a plan B and they told us they didn't need one. This project is 8 years behind schedule, it still has serious technical problems and the government has no assurance that Hinkley will be producing power by 2025 when coal is no longer supplying what we need. The least the government should have done is to have introduced a taper so that costs per unit fall dramatically for every further year's delay.
“The government’s incompetence means we have no guarantee that the power generated by Hinkley Point C will be there when we need it. Further delays could see government and taxpayers paying dearly for alternative power, with bill payers still paying a premium price for this energy that may arrive long after the 2025 power crunch.”
Notes to editors
- The board of EDF will be making a final investment decision on the Hinkley Point C project this afternoon in Paris. An announcement is expected early evening UK time. The timeline for this final investment decision has been pushed back several times since 2011, after the project faced investors pulling out, an EU state aid investigation and internal disagreements about its viability within EDF.
- In October 2013, the government agreed to guarantee EDF a price of £92.50 for each megawatt-hour of power produced by Hinkley Point C in a 35 year contract. This price is more than double current electricity wholesale prices. The National Audit Office reported this month that bill payers are now expected to pay £30billion in subsidy to ‘top up’ projected low wholesale prices, over four times the original £6.1billion estimated in 2013.
- EDF pledged in February 2007 that it would build a new nuclear plant in time to generate electricity for Christmas 2017. By October 2015, the intended start date had slipped to 2025, the government’s deadline for phasing out all unabated coal power stations.