European Court Rules in Favor of U.K. Support to EDF's Hinkley

(Bloomberg) -- The European Court of Justice, the region’s highest court, ruled Thursday in support of the U.K. government’s aid to help Electricite de France SA build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in decades.

The U.K. government agreed to pay EDF much more than the current wholesale rate for electricity produced from the station once it’s up and running, a subsidy that was approved under Europe’s state aid rules. Austria, which filed a court challenge to overturn the European Commission’s 2014 decision to back the U.K. measures, called the decision “regrettable” and will consider appealing the decision.

The handout has been termed a bad deal by critics in Britain as the so-called strike price is about 80 percent higher than the average power price so far this year. The cost of renewable technologies like wind and solar have fallen significantly since an accord was struck, making the station look even more pricey. The U.K. government agreed to pay EDF 92.50 pounds ($122.25) a megawatt-hour.

“EDF Energy believed that the state aid investigation by the European Commission was exhaustive, fair and robust,” the company said in a statement. “We were confident it would withstand legal challenge.”

The 20 billion-pound project in southwest England is scheduled to start generating power by the middle of next decade, supplying 6 million homes.

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