Letter: The powers of Nuclear Electric

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your Business Commentary 'Myths from the nuclear sector' (29 July) could more accurately be headlined 'Myths from the Independent'. First, Nuclear Electric's customers are not obliged by law to take all the power we produce - we sell it through the pool, and if we don't bid, we lose the sales.

Second, it is not within our power to reduce the levy - it is fixed in tablets of stone by the Government. Third, any suggestion that Nuclear Electric is a special case in requiring a subsidy is nonsense. Every UK generator is subsidised, with pool prices about 2p per unit, and generating costs in every case over 3p. The difference is that Nuclear Electric's subsidy arrangements are transparent - everyone can see the real cost of what we do.

Most important, we are already highly commercial. In two years, a large operating loss has been turned into profit already equal to 40 per cent of the levy. We are delivering the UK's first pressurised water reactor on budget and ahead of schedule, and we are demonstrating that we can produce electricity in the future under 3p per unit - outside any levy arrangements.

Whether you come from Mars or, like me, from a lifetime in the private sector, you should know a commercial operation when you see one.

Yours faithfully,

ROBERT HAWLEY

Chief Executive

Nuclear Electric

Barnwood, Gloucestershire

29 July

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