Every household to pay levy to build Sizewell C

A new funding plan for Sizewell C has been slammed by campaigners

A new funding plan for Sizewell C has been slammed by campaigners - Credit: EDF/ Sarah Lucy Brown/PA Wire/PA Images

Plans to impose a levy on electricity bills to help pay for a proposed new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast have been slammed as "desperate", by campaigners.  

However, EDF, which has submitted plans for the Sizewell C station, says the proposed funding model presents a “big step forward” and will enable it to pay for the construction of the project.  

The plans known as RAB (regulated asset base) would act as a levy on household electricity bills.   

It is designed to encourage investment to replace Great Britain’s fast-ageing stock of nuclear plants, which currently supply around 16% of the country’s electricity. 

The model echoes those used in the construction of Heathrow’s Terminal Five and the Thames Tideway Tunnel. 

The project will require a a Development Consent Order from Secretary of State for Business, Energy

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng is expected to decide on the plans for Sizewell C in mid April 2022 - Credit: PA

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that “a new approach” to attract British funds and private investors to back new nuclear power stations was needed.  

 “In light of rising global gas prices, we need to ensure Britain’s electricity grid of the future is bolstered by reliable and affordable nuclear power that’s generated in this country,” said Mr Kwarteng.  

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“The existing financing scheme led to too many overseas nuclear developers walking away from projects, setting Britain back years. 

“Our new model is a win-win for nuclear in our country. Not only will we be able to encourage a greater diversity of private investment, but this will ultimately lower the cost of financing new nuclear power and reduce the costs to consumers and businesses.” 

Ministers said that the cost would only reach £12 a year during construction, and claimed the model would then save households £10 per year over the life of the nuclear plant.

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C

Alison Downes has criticised the funding plans - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Campaigners, however, have slammed the proposals calling them “desperate”.  

“RAB is a desperate measure to attract investment for Sizewell C, a project so toxic that no one wants to pay for it,” said Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C.  

“Compared to other energy solutions, Sizewell C is an expensive distraction - too damaging, too slow for our climate emergency and with serious question marks over its reactor technology.  

“Whichever way you look at it RAB spells TAX, with every single energy bill payer forced to contribute to the construction of Sizewell C whether they like it or not, adding to households' rising costs, the risk of fuel poverty and putting us all on the hook for likely cost overruns and delays.”  
 

How Sizewell C with its twin reactors could look alongside plants A and B on Suffolk's coast

How Sizewell C with its twin reactors could look alongside plants A and B on Suffolk's coast - Credit: EDF ENERGY / SIZEWELL C

A spokesman for Sizewell C said: “This legislation is a big step forward and will allow us to fund Sizewell C so that it delivers reliable low carbon nuclear power at a lower cost to consumers. With the appropriate consents in place, Sizewell C will be ready to begin construction in this Parliament. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create thousands of jobs and training opportunities in East Suffolk.  

"Building on the success of Hinkley Point C, it will also deliver another big boost to thousands of supply chain companies up and down the country. 70% of the construction value will go to British companies and the legislation means Sizewell C could be majority owned by British investors.  

"Sizewell C will provide home-grown low carbon electricity to six million households and will help to reduce our reliance on energy imports. It will play a key role in helping the UK achieve net zero.”   

A decision on Sizewell C is expected next year. 

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