EDF expects nuclear regulation reform is imminent – sources

PARIS (Reuters) – French utility EDF expects regulatory reform for its French nuclear fleet to be completed quickly within weeks or months, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

A banner can be seen on a fence of the oldest French nuclear power plant Electricite de France (EDF) near the eastern French village of Fessenheim, France, on February 20, 2020. The banner reads: “No! To close Fessenheim”. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann

As part of the reform, EDF will also start restructuring the company, one of the sources added.

After a delay due to the coronavirus outbreak, France has in recent months resumed talks with the European Commission on reforming ARENH legislation, which will give its competitors access to part of its nuclear production.

EDF has long wanted to reform ARENH, which he believes is a form of subsidizing its competitors. It is said that ARENH will place all risks and investments on the shoulders of the EDF and allow private competitors easy access to cheap nuclear energy without investing in their own means of production.

According to the law, which was passed in 2010 and is due to end in 2025, competitors such as Total Direct Energie, Engie and Eni can buy up to 100 terawatt hours of electricity per year, which corresponds to around a quarter of EDF output, and that at 42 euros per MWh.

In February, EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said he did not expect any ARENH reform before January 2022.

The proposed restructuring of EDF aims to increase its financing and investment capacity.

The project, codenamed “Hercules”, could include the sale of minority stakes and possibly an IPO of some EDF units, particularly those in the renewable energy and power distribution sectors.

These so-called “green” activities would remain majority owned by EDF. EDF’s “blue” activities – nuclear and hydropower – would continue to be fully funded by the parent company.

The unions oppose the project, which they see as the first step in privatizing the state utility.

Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Letter from Geert De Clercq; Edited by Sarah White and Mark Heinrich

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