French electricity company rules out keeping nuclear plant open despite energy crisis

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Electricite de France SA said it won’t extend the lifespan of one of its nuclear power plants even as the UK government seeks solutions to cope with an energy crunch that’s sent power and gas bills to record levels.

The French utility said it will shut down its Hinkley Point B station in the west of England this summer as planned, according to an emailed statement.

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That’s despite having previously said it would consider keeping it open throughout the winter if asked to do so by the British government.

Ministers have been on the hunt for alternative supplies that can replace gas in power generation as Russia’s war in Ukraine disrupts energy markets.

EDF said in the statement that it hasn’t received a request from the UK government, but a person familiar with the matter added the company would only keep the plant open if it was forced to.

“EDF will not pursue another extension,” the company said in the statement. “Though we have not been asked by government, we have nonetheless looked in detail at what a short extension would require and decided not to pursue it.”

Hinkley Point B has already stayed open 15 years open longer than originally planned, with its lifespan extended in 1996, 2006 and again in 2016.

Now the final units are due to shut in July and August.

On Monday, the UK confirmed it was in talks with Centrica Plc to reopen Rough - the country’s biggest natural gas storage site - which shut down in 2017.

The government has denied reports that it’s planning to ration electricity this winter.

However, Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is seeking urgent solutions to the power crunch.

Last week, he called on network operator National Grid Plc to find a deal to keep the nation’s coal plants open through the winter.

EDF said it will focus on ensuring its 5,500 megawatts of remaining nuclear capacity continues to provide electricity for the UK over the next few years.

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