Government plans to make energy customers shoulder Sizewell C costs comes under fire

Sarah Chambers, EADT 24 July 2019: read online at

Government proposals which would leave electricity customers to foot up-front costs for firing up new nuclear power plants like Sizewell C has been blasted by campaigners.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a three-month public consultation on its plans to partly fund new generation nuclear through a Regulated Asset Base (RAB).

RABs involve regulators granting a licence to a company to charge a regulated price to users of the infrastructure.

The new funding model would mean all UK electricity customers would pay to help energy firm EDF to build Sizewell C – a move opposed by residents’ campaign group Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group (TEAGs).

It’s estimated that the measure would add around £6 a year to customer bills, including those on renewable energy contracts.

In 2016, the model was applied successfully for the first time to the building of the £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel sewerage project. The business department is also looking at applying it to other firm low carbon technologies, such as transport and storage infrastructure for carbon dioxide.

TEAGS co-chair Alison Downes said: “Having campaigned for many years to get EDF to change its construction plans for Sizewell C, the idea of paying for the privilege of major disruption and the threat of environmental damage to protected sites such as RSPB Minsmere really sticks in our throats.

“Most of EDF’s EPR (third generation pressurised water reactor) projects have over-run and over-spent, so there is a high risk of even more costs being passed on to householders and taxpayers. Our friends at the consumer movement SumOfUs have launched a campaign to send a message of opposition to BEIS and we urge people to sign.”

Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said alongside a big expansion of renewables, reliable nuclear power was needed to help the UK to switch from polluting fossil fuels and reach net zero emissions.

“Nuclear’s proven technology reduces the difficulties and cost of trying to decarbonise the electricity supply we all use and depend on,” he said.

“Lower costs for financing nuclear will benefit consumers through their bills and today’s consultation shows a way this can happen at Sizewell C in Suffolk.

“As a near replica of Hinkley Point C – Sizewell C will be cheaper to construct and finance. It will benefit from the experience of Hinkley Point C’s engineers, contractors and suppliers and lessons from other nuclear projects, including operational EPR plants.

“It can also repeat the huge boost for industry, jobs and skills already happening due to Hinkley Point C’s construction, which is on schedule.”

The consultation closes on October 14.