23 Jul (NucNet): Electrabel will reconsider its operation of nuclear power stations in Belgium because a tax imposed by the government has brought the company into “an unfavourable economic position”, the nuclear operator said in a statement.
Electrabel, which operates all of Belgium’s seven commercial nuclear units, said taking into account all taxes paid in 2013, together with 422 million euros (EUR) (568 million US dollars) for the nuclear tax, the total is higher than its operational income and has brought it to a loss for a second consecutive year.
Electrabel’s comments followed a decision on 17 July 2014 by Belgium’s Constitutional Court to reject its appeal against the tax.
The tax has now been “definitively validated”, state secretary for energy Melchiot Wathelet said.
Mr Wathelet said the court has sent “an important signal” that the profits made from depreciated nuclear power stations in Belgium, which were traditionally funded by the government, have now been taxed in a correct way.
Both the amount of the tax and the mechanism chosen by the state have been declared not disproportionate by the court, Mr Wathelet said.
The nuclear tax was increased by the Belgian government in 2012 and is meant to contribute towards the dismantling and decommissioning of nuclear power stations.
For 2012, the tax came to EUR 549 million (740 million US dollars) of which Electrabel had to pay EUR 479 million, and EDF Luminus and EDF Belgium EUR 70 million.
In 2012, Electrabel protested against the tax and began court proceedings against it. EDF also protested saying the tax had been doubled while power generation from nuclear energy had been halved.
The Constitutional Court found both claims were “unfounded”.
In its statement, Electrabel said the tax was “confiscatory” and does not take into account the sharp decline in electricity production from nuclear energy.
Belgium’s seven commercially operational nuclear reactors are at two power station sites, Doel and Tihange.
Electrabel, part of the GDF Suez group, owns and operates the two stations together with EDF Luminus, which has about a ten percent stake.
Doel-3 and Tihange-2 have been shut down since March 2014 while testing is conducted on the reactor pressure vessels of the units, which have had faults identified.