Today’s new nuclear deal announced between the UK and EDF Energy should include a “refund clause” if it turns out the Government has overpaid.
Which? Executive Director Richard Lloyd believes people want to be assured the price the Government has agreed to pay for new nuclear power – as high as £92.50/MWh – is fair.
He claims rising energy bills are one of the top concerns for cash-strapped consumers, especially with three of the major suppliers – SSE, British Gas and npower – so far announcing increases in gas and electricity prices this winter.
Mr Lloyd added: “The Hinkley deal commits billions of pounds of bill-payers’ money but it has been done without transparent, independent scrutiny. If it emerges that the Government has overpaid, we believe there should be a mechanism to refund consumers instead of a windfall to the suppliers.
“We can’t afford to continue with a situation where suppliers and ministers blame each other for energy price rises. We now need an independent expert review that reports to Parliament, of all energy policy costs, with an assessment of whether consumers are getting value for money and where savings can be made.”
Environmental groups believe that although investment in low carbon energy is crucial, nuclear isn’t the answer.
Friends of the Earth’s Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett said: “The quickest way to end our costly fossil fuel dependency is though energy efficiency and renewable power, not new reactors that will suck up precious investment and take years to complete.
“Investors are crying out to develop Britain’s vast renewable energy potential but they need the confidence to do so.”
Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven added: “Hinkley C fails every test – economic, consumer and environmental. It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that’s nearly double the current price of electricity and it will distort energy policy by displacing newer, cleaner, technologies that are dropping dramatically in price.”
Others in the industry however believe the nuclear deal will have a “lasting positive impact” on the UK’s energy independence and low carbon plans.