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‘Grave errors’ mean Hinkley Point C will hit the poorest hardest, say MPs

Amit Katwala

By Richard Baker, CC BY-SA 2.0
By Richard Baker, CC BY-SA 2.0

The cost of the UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will ‘hit the poorest hardest,’ according to a group of MPs.

Two thirds of the facility, near Bridgwater in Somerset, is being funded by French energy firm EDF, which is guaranteed a fixed price of £92.50/MWh for the electricity it produces for 35 years.

However, if the market rate falls below that level, consumers will pay the difference, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) estimating that the cost to consumers could be £30bn.

A report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee said that households had been “locked into an expensive deal… Over the life of the contract, consumers are left footing the bill and the poorest consumers will be hit hardest. Yet in all the negotiations no part of government was really championing the consumer interest.”

The committee’s chair Meg Hillier said the government had made some “grave strategic errors” and dealt bill payers a “bad hand”. “Its blinkered determination to agree the Hinkley deal, regardless of changing circumstances, means that for many years to come energy consumers will face costs running to many times the original estimate,” she said. “It doesn’t know what UK workers and business will gain from this project, and appears to have no coherent idea of what to do about it.”

The committee has proposed that BEIS draws up a plan to create wider economic benefits from the power station, and commissions an independent assessment of its effect on consumers.
A spokesperson for EDF Energy said the cost of Hinkley Point C had not changed for customers. “The agreed price is lower than 80% of other low-carbon capacity contracted so far and the project has restarted UK nuclear construction after a quarter century,” they said.

“Construction is fully under way and is already delivering a huge benefit to British jobs, skills and industrial strategy. It is drawing on firms from across Britain and the South West, with 2,400 employees at the site, and is on track to meet its next milestones.”

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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