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35,000 tell government: don’t raise our energy bills to subsidise new nuclear plant

Community and consumer campaigners say the “regulated asset base” funding model will expose electricity bill-payers to huge cost and habitual overspends of nuclear developers such as EDF

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11 October 2019

[LONDON] Today, campaigners from Sizewell, Hinkley Point and Bradwell nuclear sites and  consumer group SumOfUs will visit the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to deliver a 35,454-signature petition protesting the government’s proposal to subsidise new nuclear power plants by hiking energy bills.

The petition calls on the government to scrap plans to subsidise the nuclear industry through a “regulated asset base” (RAB) funding model, under which consumers would be forced to pay a surcharge on their energy bills for new nuclear power projects such as Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex.

“Government Ministers need to think again about the u-turn that is this “Ridiculous Atomic Bailout” said Alison Downes of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell. “Hinkley Point has proven that this generation of new nuclear is a non-starter commercially, but making us, the consumer, pay through our electricity bills to build something so expensive, outdated, slow and politically unpopular is unacceptable, especially in such environmentally sensitive locations as Sizewell and Bradwell.” 

Of the 35,454 people who have signed the SumOfUs petition, 2,932 are EDF customers and 14,689 are customers who have chosen a renewable electricity tariff. Over 4,000 people have also contacted BEIS directly to raise their objections to the RAB funding model through a SumOfUs action page.

“It is preposterous that consumers should be forced to subsidise private corporations,” said Sondhya Gupta, campaigns manager at SumOfUs. “Nuclear energy is a technology fraught with difficulties and there are better, cheaper and more sustainable options out there to help guarantee our energy security. It’s time the government listened to what bill payers want.”

Originally intended to be part of an Energy White Paper, BEIS quietly pushed its consultation on the controversial RAB model out in mid July. The scheme has attracted significant criticism, especially in the light of EDF’s announced £3 billion overspend at Hinkley Point, to which the BBC’s Simon Jack respondedMaking a forty-year bet on another nuclear station with a funding model that exposes consumers to those overruns, is a big call for any government to make.” The consultation closes on 14 October.

“Hinkley Point C will cost consumers somewhere between £27bn and £50bn over 35 years. Rather than admit that nuclear power is far too expensive, especially after cost estimates for the new station have leaped by £3bn to £23bn, the Government has come up with a new way to fleece consumers which shifts the risk for future reactors onto hard pressed bill payers. Time for them to drop this ridiculous plan now.” said Sue Aubrey of Stop Hinkley.

“The fact is that without this model, EDF cannot pay for Sizewell”  said Chris Wilson of Together Against Sizewell C. “The Moorside and Wylfa fiascos show us that without massive subsidies, nuclear projects will crash and burn. Instead of tying us to expensive white elephants, Government should instead be looking for ways to accelerate the growth of renewable energy, which is cheaper and quicker to deliver, and transforming energy distribution to a more flexible grid which removes the need for “baseload” energy.“

“In addition to opposing new nuclear build altogether BANNG vigorously objects to the RAB approach. This effectively gives an unquantified scale of financial support to overseas states (in respect of EDF and CGN) governed by a new, zero track record regulator with a vested interest in maintaining their own livelihoods” said Peter Banks of BANNG.

The community groups taking part in the petition delivery are Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, Together Against Sizewell C, Blackwater Against New Nuclear (BANNG, Bradwell), Stop Hinkley, the B1122 Action Group (Sizewell) and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group.

/ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. View photos from the petition delivery here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xif8p52t1uummhp/AABc5RL8Y8Ji4xLH7ABTTlT_a?dl=0
  2. View the SumOfUs petition: https://actions.sumofus.org/a/no-energy-bill-surcharge-for-new-nuclear
  3. View a briefing on the regulated asset base funding model produced by Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell: https://teags.org/rab/  

Contact:

For comment and more details, please contact: Sondhya Gupta – 07811186937, sondhya @sumofus.org, Alison Downes – 07711 843884, info@teags.org