Letter: No doubling of nuclear costs

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'ENERGY costs 'may double' ' (26 June) was a wrong headline on a story that was also quite wrong. First, not one of the 434 nuclear power stations operating around the world has been built without government support, whether it is in the public or private sector. There is little, if any, chance of total government funding for a pounds 3.5bn power station. There is a case for a public/private sector venture, with the private sector providing the bulk of the funding.

Second, such a venture, if it receives government support, would not see nuclear costs doubling. Investors would need adequate return on their money. Sizewell C would offer 11 to 12 per cent return on electricity prices of about 3.7p per unit, almost exactly the price being paid to all other generators in the market today. Only Nuclear Electric, which sells most of its electricity through the pool, receives significantly less.

Third, Nuclear Electric's motives for privatisation are clear: to secure a long-term commercial future for the company. The dramatic improvements in our performance mean that privatisation is now an option for the Government. It would increase our exposure to competitors, maintain the downward pressure on nuclear generation costs and remove up to pounds 6bn of liabilities from the public sector.

Robert Hawley

Chief Executive

Nuclear Electric

Barnwood, Gloucester