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No 'smoke-filled room deal' with EDF on electricity strike prices - UK minister

06 Nov 2012 17:49:59 | edem

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UK energy minister John Hayes told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that the government is determined to reach a strike price agreement with EDF for its Hinkley Point C nuclear project by the year's end.

Speaking before the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Hayes argued the process of setting the Hinkley strike price would be "completely transparent" and that "a smoke-filled-room deal is not what we would seek and not what the house would accept anyway."

The minister added the terms of an agreement with EDF would be tabled in parliament as a separate instrument to the upcoming electricity market reform (EMR) bill, which is due for a second reading this month.

Hayes also sought to assure the committee that the government would not strike a deal with EDF "at any price", despite the importance of Hinkley's viability as the first of several nuclear new-build plants the government has its sights on.

"As I looked into the eyes of Vincent de Rivaz yesterday, I said the government will always put the national interests first. In any commercial arrangement both sides will need to be able to walk away from the deal," Hayes said.

The committee asked Hayes whether a component of the strike price would cover some of the construction risk of nuclear projects. Hayes replied there would be no subsidies for nuclear power beyond that which was being made available to support other forms of low-carbon generation. The minister did not comment specifically when the committee asked whether the government would consider using a new form of treasury guarantee, unveiled in July, to help fund the construction of nuclear projects (see EDEM 18 July 2012).

The EMR bill is scheduled to receive royal assent this spring. KB

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