Scottish Nuclear makes first profit

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SCOTTISH NUCLEAR, the state-owned electricity generator, made its first net profit last year, earning pounds 13.7m after a loss of pounds 32.5m a year earlier. The profit was after provisions of pounds 50.6m to cover nuclear waste disposal and the decommissioning of plants.

The results do not take into account pounds 110m in Government-underwritten provisions related to the Hunterston magnox reactor, which has already been closed. Other than those underwritten by the Government, Scottish Nuclear's accounts show future nuclear provisions of around pounds 2bn.

James Hann, chairman, said: 'We have a very long way to go before we are remotely satisfied with our financial performance.' The company intends progressively driving down generation costs from 3.21p a unit to 2.5p.

The conmpany has decided to opt for long-term storage for nuclear waste instead of reprocessing, which will result in a reduction in operating costs of pounds 45m a year.

Scottish Nuclear does not have the benefit of the subsidy given to Nuclear Electric of an 11 per cent levy on electricity bills in England and Wales. However, it has Government-imposed contracts with the two Scottish electricity companies at 3.75p a unit, compared with about 3.1p from coal-fired plant in England and Wales. The Scottish price is to be brought progressively into line with market prices in England and Wales.

Turnover last year rose by 13 per cent to pounds 477m.