French finance authorities have raided the offices of EDF just days before the state-backed energy giant is expected to give the go-ahead to its controversial Hinkley Point new nuclear project. The long-awaited final decision on the Hinkley project is scheduled to take place at a board meeting next Thursday, even as authorities in both the UK and France escalate concerns over the costs of the £18bn project. French investigators from the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) swooped on EDF’s Paris headquarters on Thursday morning as part of a probe into EDF’s disclosure of information to the market. Investigators are said to be concerned about the reporting of its domestic nuclear maintenance costs as well as the plans to develop new nuclear reactors in Somerset. Local media reports say the AMF recovered a series of documents from the EDF offices and requested a meeting with EDF general secretary Pierre Todorov. Just hours after the raid the company said it would hold a board meeting on Thursday 28 July to agree a final decision on the project, feeding speculation that the company is preparing to push ahead with the 3.2GW project. The company also has a scheduled extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday next week, seeking approval from shareholders for itsproposed £3bn recapitalistion.
Telegraph 22nd July 2016 read more »
[Human translation] AMF investigators made a surprise visit on Thursday to EDF’s headquarters. The AMF’s investigation is into the fairness of the financial communications within EDF since 2013. The French Financial Markets Authority (AMF) is worried that EDF is about to undertake the inordinately excessive (pharonic) construction of Hinkley Point, which will cost £14 billions. But what were the men in gray of the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) looking for at the headquarters of EDF, avenue de Wagram, in Paris? According to Le Monde, three investigators commissioned by the stock market watchdog made a surprise raid on Thursday morning in the office of Peter Todorov, Secretary General of the EDF Group. According to an informed source quoted by AFP, investigators presented a warrant and asked “parts, information, dates, account reports ” relating to the expensive Hinkley Point project in Britain. If this was not an actual raid, it looked like one. We have learned that AMF recently opened an investigation against EDF, obviously believing that the group’s management had perhaps understated in its financial reporting the risks of the EPR construction project at Hinkley Point. Estimated construction costs are now £18 billion pounds (21 billion euros), 66% of which are to be borne by EDF. The AMF financial authority is also surprised how the amount of the renovation program of all French nuclear power plants, the “major overhaul” in EDF jargon, valued initially at 55 billion euros, was somehow revised down to 50 billion euros. The AMF survey covers the period from 2013 until today and thus covers ” the current Presidency and the previous” and those of the current CEO Jean-Bernard Levy and his predecessor Henri Proglio. The bad news did not stop EDF announcing that its Board would meet on Thursday, July 28 to approve the “final investment decision” for Hinkley Point. This announcement followed a summit meeting Thursday between French President Francois Hollande and the new British Prime Minister Theresa May, who gave a green light to the project. The investment part of the French utility, which owns a 66% of the project will be £12 billion (14.3 billion euros) and that of its Chinese partner CGN £ 6 billion. Construction should begin in 2019 with delivery expected in 2025. Although this is supported by the highest level of the state and EDF management, it ignores the opinion of the EDF Works Council which is concerned at the vertiginous the project costs and which has filed a lawsuit against EDF for more information.
Liberation 21st July 2016 read more »
The media is full of stories that EDF is about to announce a ‘final investment decision’ on Hinkley C nuclear power station, whereas the logic of its own press statements suggest that the project is in fact in deep freeze. Once again, EDF’s superb public relations is convincing people that its disastrous Hinkley C power plant project is moving ahead, whilst the reality is that it is announcing that the project will not be started until at least 2019. And even this date seems to be associated with the commissioning of the terribly delayed sister project at Flamanville. The document, released by EDF on July 21st, actually says: ‘The first concrete of reactor 1 of HPC, scheduled for mid-2019, would coincide with perfect continuity with the start-up of the EPR at Flamanville, scheduled for the end of 2018’. So, what is actually happening is that, as experts familiar with the saga know only too well, EDF is confirming that Hinkley’s construction could not possibly begin until the safety issues surrounding the reactor design have been cleared and the working of the Flamanville project has been demonstrated. This is not going to happen for a minimum of THREE YEARS. contrary to what seems to be widely assumed, the UK Government has not even offered EDF a legally binding contract. It beggars belief how seriously one can take a project that has not even got an offer of a contract from the people who are supposed to be paying for it! But then the project has long since departed from being based on any sense of commercial reality, and linkages with commercial reality have always been tenuous, as they will be with any nuclear power project that has to meet the sort of safety standards demanded in developed countries these days.
Dave Toke’s Blog 22nd July 2016 read more »
Ecologist 22nd July 2016 read more »
Billions of pounds’ worth of public projects will have to be scrapped by Theresa May because of a “tidal wave” of pressures from an impending Brexit, the head of Whitehall’s official spending watchdog has said. The comptroller and auditor general of the National Audit Office, Sir Amyas Morse, said the government would have to treat leaving the EU as an “emergency” and that government departments would be forced to decide which plans could be cancelled or suspended. Major projects such as the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, a third runway at Heathrow and the ambitious HS2 rail project would have to be reassessed as the government decides which can be done without, he told the Guardian. “We need to ask ourselves, can the public sector deliver Hinkley Point C, a third runway, HS2, a northern powerhouse, nuclear decommissioning, Trident renewal and restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster all at the same time? “All these projects are drawing on the same pool of skills and many of these contain optimism bias that they will be able to meet their skill needs at an appropriate cost,” he said, while declining to speculate on which should be scrapped. “You are going to have to rein in projects … and say, what is the benefit? How damaging is it not to have it for a period of time? Can we afford it?” he said.
Guardian 21st July 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 22nd July 2016 read more »
Business leaders have criticised the head of the National Audit Office for suggesting that the government would have to put the brakes on big infrastructure projects to focus on the “tidal wave” of Brexit. Hinkley Point, Britain’s first new nuclear power station for decades, could get the go-ahead when EDF, the French state-owned company behind the project, makes an announcement next week about its future.
FT 22nd July 2016 read more »
Next Thursday will be make or break day for Hinkley Point C, with EDF, the company behind the planned new nuclear power plant set to make its final decision at a board meeting.The company says it has called a board meeting for July 28 and the investment decision is on the agenda.
Bristol Post 22nd July 2016 read more »