Opening statement by Vincent de Rivaz
Let me begin by acknowledging why you have asked me to come back in front of your Committee.
At the time of the last hearing in March there was an expectation that we would have taken a final investment decision on Hinkley Point C by now.
That was my hope too.
Much has been said about the project in the media recently. Let us look at the facts.
Last time I was here I said that EDF could not progress with HPC until the overall financial plan to secure the company’s future investments was in place.
We are operating in a market where the dramatic fall in wholesale energy prices has created difficult conditions for all energy companies.
I said that EDF was working with its main shareholder, the French State, to secure its financial trajectory.
I explained what was being discussed at that moment between EDF and the French State.
I described an overall plan including asset disposals, greater operating efficiencies, and a stronger balance sheet. A plan to address the overall situation of EDF, not specifically Hinkley Point C.
Since then, this overall plan has been presented to the EDF Board by the Chairman, with agreement
from the French State.
This is therefore also great news for Hinkley Point C.
No project has been better prepared than Hinkley Point C
The combination of the money coming from EDF and from CGN, our Chinese partners, means that the money is there.
That done, the Chairman of the Group decided to consult the French Trade Unions about HPC through the French Company Works Council, to seek their advisory opinion.
Social dialogue is an important process which is at the heart of our Group.
Let me be clear.
The current position of some of the French Trade Unions is to postpone the project for two to three years.
Our position is that there is no need for a delay because the project is ready. No project has been better prepared than Hinkley Point C as a result of the intensive work over the last decade.
And we must absolutely not delay it, because the UK needs the electricity from Hinkley Point C at the time it’s due to come on line.
These are the terms of the discussions at the Works Council.
There’s a common ground between us all about the huge importance of this project in all its dimensions for EDF – and the need to get it right.
Therefore I am very confident that this consultation will build on this common ground and address all the issues and concerns.
At the end of the consultation, the Works Council will be invited to give its advisory opinion, after which the Chairman will present HPC to the Board, and the Board will make its decision.
Last time I was here I could not give a precise date for this decision. And that remains the case – simply because I do not want to prejudge, in any way, the outcome of the consultation.
Let me say though: The sooner we have a Final Investment Decision, the better.
The cost of building Hinkley Point C has not changed
Also, may I take this opportunity to repeat that, contrary to recent media reports, the costs of £18 billion have not changed.
And equally to reassure everyone that the support from our partner CGN is as strong as ever.
The support of the French state, EDF’s major shareholder, is also very strong. I am aware that The French Minster for Economy and Industry, Emmanuel Macron has provided a letter of evidence to your enquiry, in which he describes HPC as an outstanding cooperative effort by France and the UK and reiterates that the French authorities are giving full support to the project.
Lastly I can tell you that the numerous teams working on the project are motivated and determined.
The project is not on hold. At the moment we speak, the project continues, to prepare for the final investment decision, at which time we will confirm the date of commissioning.
EDF has secured its overall financing, we are consulting with the trade unions, and the teams are still working hard on the project.
Hinkley Point C is a strategic project for France and for China. It is as essential for EDF as it is for the UK. We are ready to deliver it on‐time and on‐budget.