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Centrica gives reasons for UK nuclear exit at AGM

14 May 2013

On May 13, Centrica, which owns British Gas, gave details at its Annual General Meeting why last February it abandoned its 20% stake in EDF’s plan to build a £14bn nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Chairman Sir Roger Carr told the AGM that since it first considered the project the price had “rocketed hugely”, adding: “Nuclear is not a cheap option.” 

Plans to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point are held up by a disagreement over the price to be paid for its electricity
Plans to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point are held up by a disagreement over the price to be paid for its electricity

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive, said: “Not only had the cost increased but also the schedule had lengthened very considerably. So instead of taking four to five years to build, EDF were telling us that it was going to take nine to 10 years to build. That is a long time to be writing out a cheque for this project.”

Instead of investing in UK nuclear, Centrica opted instead to give £500m back to shareholders and invest in gas in North America.

The French company is in talks with the Government over the financial terms for Hinkley Point. Energy minister Michael Fallon last week said they were “inching” closer but warned there may be no agreement. 

EDF wants a guaranteed price for the electricity it will generate for up to 40 years, subsidised by levies on consumer energy bills. Rival companies SSE and Npower have urged ministers not to proceed with the deal. 


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