Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Fessenheim : issues around the closure of a symbol, and nuclear Release

The promise made by candidate Hollande pledged to its allies in the green to close Fessenheim during his term of office was for five years the finger of the presidential like an old band-aid nuclear. And, despite the law on the energy transition setting for “objective” to lower the share of nuclear in electricity to 50% by 2025, it was assumed for a long time that the central Upper-Rhine kept its two reactors of 900 MW prior to his departure from the Elysée. But François Hollande has had to push a “phew” of relief in learning, Tuesday 24 January, that the management of EDF had narrowly avoided a new snub policy.

The board of directors of the electrician was very divided, but eventually agreed to a vote of some 450 million euros of compensation offered by the State. The six employee representatives have voted against, in line with the negative opinion by the central committee of the company on 10 January, while the six independent directors are in favour of the negotiated protocol of high a fight with the government. The six representatives of the State shareholder could not take part in the vote without being accused of conflict of interest. The casting vote of the chairman and CEO of EDF, Jean-Bernard Lévy, in the case of an equality of votes, has made the difference. While the former boss of the Medef, Laurence Parisot, who was opposed to the mammoth project of Hinkley Point, has not failed this time. The way is thus open to a shutdown of Fessenheim in 2018, in spite of the opposition unanimous agreement of the trade unions of the electrician.

Why was the green light to EDF was not obvious ?

With a State shareholder to 85.6% in its capital, one would expect that EDF is running the finger on the seam of the pants. But for the operator, accept the closing “early” to one of its 19 nuclear power plants is not obvious, to the point that the management of EDF is still talking about a “prejudice”. Opened in 1978, Fessenheim would have been entitled to an extension of his farm from forty to sixty years, provided that the nuclear safety Authority (ASN) issued the green light. And then there’s the shortfall that represents for the operator to stop the production of a power plant of 1 800 MW, the disappearance of a “active” financial estimated to be 4 billion by a parliamentary report, not to mention the decommissioning costs, to provide… A study commissioned by the works committee of EDF cabinet Secafi has estimated the loss of revenue to the group by 2040 within a wide range between $ 1.6 billion and 6 billion euros ( according to the evolution of the wholesale price of electricity). The Parliament has assessed him at $ 4.7 billion…

That has got the electrician in exchange ?

The minister of Ecology and Energy, Ségolène Royal, originally proposed that 80 to 100 million euros of compensation. A sum found to be “silly” by the electrician. The agreement reached this summer between EDF and the State about Fessenheim provides for compensation of € 446 million minimum. Finally, the group mentioned in a statement that the sum of “490″, of which a first instalment of approximately € 100 million after the shutdown of the plant in 2019 and the remaining 80% in 2021. But also “an additional variable reflecting the shortfall for EDF until 2041″ (the date corresponding to the extension of the authorization of exploitation of the power plant Fessenheim would have been able to get). For its part, the State has agreed to remove two threats-regulatory and it held out against EDF in the event of refusal to close Fessenheim : it should give the electrician permission to proceed with the construction of the EPR reactor of Flamanville 3 (Manche) and its green light to the restart of the reactor number 2 of the central Paluel (Seine-Maritime), stopped following the collapse of a steam generator of 450 tonnes. EDF will thus be able to start its EPR 1 600 MWe at the end of 2018 to compensate for the shutdown of two reactors in Fessenheim.

The oldest French central was it “dangerous” ?

No more than the rest of the French nuclear reactors. Connected to the network by the end of 1977, the two nuclear reactors of Fessenheim which are certainly the oldest in activity in France. But their technology pressurized water is used in all power plants at EDF, in the meantime the EPR. The central will be celebrating in December its forty years of activity, its operating life initial. But EDF, which invested 280 million euros to modernize Fessenheim, believes that it could operate for another twenty years. – Out of nuclear power has often condemned its age and the danger it might represent for the million of people living in a radius of 30 km from Colmar and Mulhouse and the bordering German. And Greenpeace has designated Fessenheim among the five French plants “to close priority” because of his exposure to a “elevated flood risk”, particularly in the case of overflow of the grand canal of Alsace along the Rhine. But the nuclear safety Authority (ASN) has estimated that by 2015 “the performance in the field of nuclear safety of the site of Fessenheim are distinguishable in a positive way.” and that “the operating day-to-day reactors is generally satisfactory.”. During his recent visits to the decennial, the constable has given the green light to extend the activity until 2019 (reactor number 1) and 2022 (reactor number 2).

What are the implications for employment and the nuclear industry ?

The CEO of EDF believes in the end to have “preserved in the best interests of the company and its clients”. Even the sound of a bell at Ségolène Royal, for which the closure of Fessenheim “is a balanced decision” which will “allow the maintenance of employment and the mutation of the site”. The unions of EDF, who fear for the employment of 1,000 employees of the plant (including 800 in the EDF), and all employees, sub-contractors, are not of the same opinion. In an open letter to the directors on 21 January, the staff representatives have denounced in advance for this closure as a decision “incoherent and irresponsible” and fusitigé a “financial mess, industrial, social, and climate”. For forty years, Fessenheim live any a region between the indirect jobs and business tax. To reassure, Ségolène Royal holds up “new industrial investments franco-germans on the ter ritory of the Haut-Rhin”. She referred to the possible installation of a factory for electric cars in the u.s. Tesla, a project of the battery plant of the third generation or the creation of a pilot site for the dismantling of plants… But for the moment, nothing concrete.

The right, it may come back on the close ?

The CGT-Energy promises to continue to mobilize in order to avoid “a mess history”. But now the only hope of the union is that another presidential candidate keeps his promises, even if it is right. During a debate of the primary, François Fillon had said on the 17th November : “The nuclear is a wealth of French, it is thus necessary to modernize the nuclear, and above all, don’t close nuclear plants. Accordingly, we will not close the power plant of Fessenheim.” Position reiterated on 24th January by Fillon in a press release in which it announced to take “commitment”, if he is elected, “defend the interests of the French, and the energy independence of France”: “Fessenheim should not close”, pounds, once again the candidate of the right. the In case of victory, the new majority could cancel the decree authorising the closure of Fessenheim, the current governm ent will enact when EDF has submitted its request “to repeal the authorization to use” at the conclusion of a new board of directors. In the event of a victory in may, there will still be time for the right to go back, because the shutdown procedure still requires numerous administrative steps under the authority of ASN. In short, the soap opera Fessenheim is probably not complete.

Jean-Christophe Féraud


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