Nuclear Electric hopes that no nukes will be good news

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NUCLEAR Electric is considering changing its name to Safeco, in a bid to upgrade its public image, writes Mary Fagan.

The state-owned electricity generator has appointed advisers Thornton Drummond and Brett to find a new name for the company, which has ambitions in the private sector.

The list of 15 titles being considered includes Safeco, Envirogen, GenCo and Britannia Electric, but nothing relating to nuclear power. Other choices in the drive to find a friendly and dynamic image are British Energy, New Electric and National Electricity.

Nuclear Electric has made privatisation the central issue in its submission to the Government's review of the nuclear industry. The company, however, wants to leave the ageing Magnox reactors and about pounds 9bn in historic liabilities in public hands.

The new name would apply only to the privatised part of Nuclear Electric with its family of Advanced Gas Cooled reactors and pressurised water reactors. That would still have liabilities of pounds 6bn.

Its campaign received a blow yesterday when the Nuclear Industry Forum, representing dozens of companies in the nuclear, construction and related industries, said privatisation was not necessary for Britain's nuclear industry to succeed.

The forum wants to shift the emphasis towards forming a partnership with the Government to promote the building of more PWRs, starting with Sizewell C in Suffolk. The forum says the potential export market is worth pounds 500bn, but the industry needs a solid home base on which to grow.