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EDF to Cut Staff at U.K. Nuclear Site as Power Talks ‘Progress’

Electricite de France SA will reduce staff at its project to build the U.K.’s first new nuclear plants in almost two decades, as the French utility seeks to curb costs as power price talks continue.

The decision to “refocus its activities” at the Hinkley Point C plant where about 800 people are employed “reflects its priorities ahead of securing the financing necessary for the project,” EDF said today in a statement. The company declined to give a figure for cuts when contacted by phone.

The utility has been in talks with the British government to agree a deal guaranteeing the price EDF will earn for power from the two reactors in Somerset, southwest England. U.K. lawmakers have warned a failure to build new nuclear plants will jeopardize the country’s chances of meeting its legally binding obligations to slash greenhouse gases.

“Negotiations with the U.K. government to agree a contract for the electricity from Hinkley Point C are making progress,” the company said in today’s statement. EDF Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio said April 18 the French utility may let talks fail if the parties can’t agree a price.

EDF has already spent 480 million euros ($624 million) at the project, which would have a total capacity of 3,260 megawatts, enough to supply 5 million homes for 60 years, it said in February. Pre-construction engineering work at the site continues, according to today’s statement.

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