EDF Seeks Compensation for Fessenheim Reactor Halt, CEO Says

Electricite de France SA will hold talks with the French government about compensation for the planned shutdown of the utility’s oldest nuclear plant, Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio said.

“Discussions will be started with the government,” he said today in an interview on RTL radio. “I am responsible for a company so I am responsible vis a vis my investors to defend the interests of the company. That’s legitimate.”

French President Francois Hollande said Sept. 14 Fessenheim will be shut at the end of 2016, marking the first step in his bid to reduce the nation’s reliance on atomic power. The Fukushima disaster in Japan prompted concern that the plant, which has two 900-megawatt reactors that began operating in 1977, wouldn’t be able to withstand an earthquake or flooding.

France holds 84 percent of EDF, which owns the country’s 58 working nuclear reactors and is developing a new one in Flamanville in Normandy. Proglio has said he wants to extend the lifetime of EDF’s reactors to as much as 60 years, a strategy that could be revised due to Hollande’s policy.

“I will speak with the state about the consequences,” of shutting Fessenheim, Proglio said today.

EDF allocates 17.5 percent of the power produced by the 1,800 megawatt Fessenheim plant to German utility EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG and 15 percent to Swiss electricity consortium CNP, according to the company’s annual report.

Renewables Pledge

France gets more than three-quarters of its electricity production from nuclear reactors, a higher proportion of nuclear energy than any other country. Hollande has pledged to boost renewable energy, bringing reliance on nuclear power down to 50 percent by about 2025.

Projections for rising power demand by 2025 from a combination of an increased French population and economic growth could bring the proportion of electricity provided by EDF’s existing reactors down to 50 percent, Proglio said today.

The utility’s generating capacity is valued at 450 billion euros ($583 billion), he said. This includes 100 billion euros for hydroelectric dams, 250 billion euros for nuclear reactors and 50 billion euros for the grid.

EDF slipped 0.4 percent to 16.75 euros at 9:47 a.m. in Paris, giving the utility a market value of 31 billion euros.

EDF may be forced by the country’s atomic safety watchdog to shut Fessenheim as early as the middle of next year if it doesn’t carry out work to bolster the site’s defenses against a meltdown. The regulator is evaluating the utility’s plans for the modifications.

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