September 30, 2014 / 8:34 AM / 6 years ago

CEZ says EU approval of UK nuclear project a precedent -newspaper

PRAGUE, Sept 30 (Reuters) - EU regulatory approval of Britain’s 16 billion pound nuclear project with French utility EDF sets a precedent that should help a Czech proposal, the head of power company CEZ was quoted as saying by Hospodarske Noviny on Tuesday.

A European Commission said on Sept. 22 that regulators would clear British plans for the project at Hinkley Point, in which it wants to offer EDF a guaranteed power price of 92.50 pounds ($150) per megawatt-hour for 35 years, more than twice the market rate.

CEZ scrapped a tender for a multi-billion dollar expansion of its Temelin nuclear power station in April because of low wholesale power prices and the Czech state’s refusal to provide price guarantees.

CEZ had sought a contract-for-difference scheme that sets a state-guaranteed floor for prices from the new units, but the centre-left government did not back the idea.

“I have tried to explain the contract-for-difference scheme ... to probably three governments and it was always difficult,” CEZ Chief Executive Daniel Benes told the newspaper.

“One argument was that it would never go through because it is public support. Now, though, Brussels approved it for the British. It is always good when some one big clears the way for you.”

The newspaper asked whether the fact that the Czech Republic is now a net exporter of electricity could erode the validity of the British case as a precedent for CEZ. Britain had argued that its scheme was needed for energy security.

Benes said the country was an exporter only for the short run. “That will change after 2020,” he said. “And when we talk about Temelin, we are talking about the shape of the energy sector after 2030.” (1 US dollar = 0.6149 British pound) (Reporting by Jason Hovet; editing by Jane Baird)

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