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Nuclear industry AND tax-payer funds both may be needed to cover nuclear shutdown costs

DecommissioningSHUTDOWN COSTS Picking Up the Nuclear Tab, Handelsblatt BY KLAUS STRATMANN 23 Feb 16, A leaked draft report on Germany’s exit from nuclear power recommends the nation’s four big utilities foot the €19.7 billion bill for decommissioning their power plants – but any costs above that may be carried by taxpayers.

FACTS In 2011, Germany announced a complete phase-out of nuclear power by 2022, with a target of 80 percent renewable energy by 2050.

The four major power firms in Germany, E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall, and plant operator Krümmel have set aside €39.6 billion for their share of the phase-out costs.

A government financial commission has now devised a structure for dividing the responsibilities and clarifying the financial liabilities of industry and government. Germany moved a step closer this week to deciding how to pay for its forced exit from nuclear power. The government is moving toward requiring four nuclear plant operators pay the first €19.7 billion ($22 billion). Any costs above that — including hard-to-estimate expenses for storing nuclear fuel — would be paid for by taxpayers.

The recommendations are included in a draft of a government report on the issue obtained by Handelsblatt. The document was described as a preliminary recommendation and could have been leaked as a trial balloon.

The draft recommends making E.ON, RWE EnBW and Vattenfall, the four utilities, pay for “decommissioning and demolition” of their nuclear power plants. The government would then step in assume the costs of the trickier task of removing and storing radioactive waste.

The utilities together have set aside about €39.6 billion ($43.6 billion) to cover their costs of decommissioning. But there is a strong possibility that final costs may rise well beyond that.

The cost of waste disposal and storage, in particular, is seen as particularly difficult to gauge, promting fears among consumer advocates that the utilities could end up saddling taxpayers with the majority of costs.

The report recommends that a state fund be set up to pay for the waste disposal, financed in part by the four utilities, which would transfer in about half of their total reserves. But the report stops short of saying how costs would be divided between industry and taxpayers if disposal costs are greater than expected……

February 25, 2016 - Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany

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