EU Commission Clears Belgian Aid For Three Reactors

The European Commission said Friday that the Belgian government's plans to compensate Engie-Electrabel and EDF Belgium for potential financial risks linked to long-term operation of three nuclear plants – Tihange 1, Doel 1 and Doel 2 – to be in line with EU state aid rules.

Doel NPPThe legal foundation for the approval lies in the point that EU member states, under EU treaties, are permitted to determine their own energy mix, including nuclear power technologies.

In 2014 and 2015, Belgium arrived at two agreements with Engie-Electrabel and EDF Belgium to prolong the operating life of the three reactors. Under the agreements, the companies have committed to invest around $1.4 billion in exchange for authorizations to run the plant for another 10 years. The Doel 1 and Doel 2 plants are owned by Engie-Electrabel, while the Tihange reactor is owned by Engie-Electrabel and EDF Belgium together.

Under the agreements, the companies would receive financial compensation if Belgium decides to close the reactors before the end of the 10-year license extensions.

"Under EU rules, such state aid has to be limited and proportionate to the objectives pursued,” the Commission said Friday.

The Commission also said that Belgium has demonstrated that the measures do not unfairly distort the Belgium energy market so long as Engie-Electrabel, the major player on the Belgian electricity markets, sells to regulated markets each year a volume equivalent to the company's share of the annual production of each of the three reactors. This contingency “will ensure liquidity on Belgian electricity markets and help increase competition in the market, the Commission said.

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