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Green energy providers sue EU Commission over Hinkley Point subsidy

An alliance of green energy providers and municipal utilities in Germany and Austria has lodged a complaint with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over subsidies for the planned British nuclear power station Hinkley Point C, has reported.

The ECJ should “annul” the European Commission’s approval of this state aid, argues the alliance of 10 energy companies.

They say the “excessive nuclear power subsidies” amount to an “unlawful operating aid”.

In October 2014, the European Commission originally approved the aid for Hinkley Point C.

Recently, claimants commissioned scientific studies which argue that guaranteed state subsidies for nuclear power from Hinkley Point C will add up to around €108bn.

At 12 cents per kilowatt hour, the guaranteed remuneration would be three times the market price – adjusted for inflation – and is planned to be fixed for 35 years.

The claimants are accusing the Commission of “legal and procedural error”. They fear that, together with other nuclear energy projects, the comprehensive subsidies package could create “massive distortions” in the European energy market and create competitive advantages for nuclear power.

In the meantime, Austria has also filed a complaint. However, the German government has so far refused to join in taking legal measures against the controversial subsidy decision, invoking political grounds for doing so.

Now, Greenpeace Energy is calling on the German government to sue the Commission for approving the subsidies.

Within just a few weeks, more than 15,000 people have followed an appeal from the energy community and have resorted to email, postcards or online petitions to urge German politicians to join in taking legal action against the subsidy approval for Hinkley Point C.

The deadline for member states or companies to file a complaint against the Commission’s decision is 23 July.

If built, Hinkley would be the first British nuclear reactor since Sizewell B in 1995.

The deal allows French-owned electricity generator EDF to be guaranteed £92.50 per megawatt hour over the 35-year life of the Hinkley plant.

This subsidy, twice the current price of electricity, will be paid out of household energy bills.

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