Mark Leftly: Stop dithering on this nuclear 'strike price' deal

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The Independent Online

Outlook Sticking with government and industry, I hear that the long-awaited "strike price" for nuclear power generation has basically been agreed. This is the guaranteed minimum that EDF would get for power produced at a proposed new plant at Hinkley Point, the first of the coming wave of nuclear new-build.

This floor price is vital, as it means investors are guaranteed a return for stumping up the billions of pounds needed to design, build and operate the stations. Once agreed, arguably the biggest remaining obstacle to a new nuclear dawn has been overcome.

I'm told that EDF and the civil servants have all but signed on the dotted line for a minimum price of somewhere between £95-£99.50 per megawatt hour, whatever that means, which was about as high as government was willing to go as then other forms of clean energy would be cheaper.

However, what the nuclear industry needs is for this deal to be finalised and formally confirmed. Nuclear's many critics could also do with this news, so that they could at least keep fighting the inevitable fully informed.

An announcement was due before Christmas, which slipped into this month. Apparently, "red tape" means official word won't come until March. Red tape normally sounds like the ponderous work of the civil service, but in this case is synonymous with several, until now fairly uninterested, parties wanting to put their stamp on the deal at the last minute.

They know who they are and the message to them is to stop delaying this programme as even a couple of lost months could lead to people freezing as the energy gap widens in a few winters' time.