The group building Britain’s new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been raided by French competition authorities. Investigators acted against EDF amid allegations that it was exploiting its position as a former state monopoly to keep rivals out of the market in France. The move came a day after Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against EDF, alleging that the state-owned company was guilty of false accounting as it had deliberately underestimated the cost of its nuclear reactors. EDF denied the allegation and has sued Greenpeace for spreading “false information”. The flurry of legal activity comes two months after the government approved EDF’s plan to build reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £18 billion. The plant is intended to generate 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity, with the French group shouldering two thirds of the project and the rest coming from the China General Nuclear Power. France’s competition authority confirmed yesterday that it had raided energy companies and had seized documents as part of its inquiry into accusations of anti-competitive practices. French media reported that EDF had been the main target. The authority was said to be seeking to access the company’s customer database. In a report last year, the Cour des Comptes, the equivalent of Britain’s National Audit Office, said that France had dragged its heels over the opening of its energy market. The Greenpeace lawsuit came after the association commissioned a report from AlphaValue, an equity research company, which described EDF as “incapable of reacting rapidly and efficiently to the variations in electricity needs and the changes created by the liberalisation of . . . European markets”. AlphaValue claimed that if EDF published the true cost of its nuclear fleet in France, it would be declared bankrupt.
Times 26th Nov 2016 read more »