May 25, 2016
EDF boss refuses to set date for Hinkley Point C decision or start-up

Energy firm EDF has this week refused to say when it expects to decide on the much-delayed Hinkley Point C project, or whether the nuclear plant is still on track to generate first power in 2025 as planned.

Appearing before MPs on the Energy Select Committee on Tuesday (May 24th), Vincent de Rivaz, Chief Executive of the UK division of EDF Energy, insisted that the company was doing everything it could for Hinkley "to be ready when the UK needs it" but he refused to give a precise timetable.

He said a decision on the £18bn plant near Burnham-On-Sea should be "very rapid" following a consultation with French unions, which began on May 2nd, but suggested that consultation could be extended beyond the expected 60 days.

Emmanuel Macron, France's economy minister, had previously suggested a decision could be taken in September.

Mr de Rivaz said the unions had called for the huge project to be delayed for two to three years due to concerns that EDF could not afford it, but that the consultation was purely advisory and EDF's board, which would take the final decision, did not want a delay.

"We must absolutely not delay it," he told the committee, insisting that the money is now in place to build the plant. "We cannot afford to keep the UK waiting."

Asked whether the project is still on schedule to generate its first power in 2025, Mr de Rivaz said EDF understood "the need for this to be the case" and it was "the date we would like to be able to confirm” but that it would only set a date when it took the final investment decision.

He added that the project is "not on hold", with work continuing at the Hinkley site.

He said that the French authorities remain "fully behind" the project but understood that "a certain amount of impatience may be creeping in as the project is key for the UK's energy and climate policy."

"I have every confidence that a final investment decision can be made rapidly after the end of the consultation," he said.

Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister, told the committee that the decision date was a commercial matter for EDF.

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