Officials clear British EDF nuclear project, immediately face legal challenge.

Reuters: “European Union state aid regulators will clear Britain’s plan to build a 16 billion-pound ($26.15 billion) nuclear plant with French utility EDF, a European Commission official said on Monday.”
“The project at Hinkley Point in southwest England is crucial to Britain’s plan to replace a fifth of its ageing¬†nuclear power andcoal plants over the coming decade, while¬†France sees it as a major export contract that will boost its nuclear industry.
But Britain’s plans for financing it are extremely divisive within the European Union. A group of more than 20 academics, politicians and renewable energy officials has written to the Commission warning it is likely face legal action for rushing through the decision.
Britain wants to offer EDF a guaranteed power price of 92.50 pounds ($151.27) per megawatt-hour for 35 years, more than twice the current market rate.
The Commission, which has been investigating the proposed scheme since last December because of concerns that the guaranteed price may give EDF an unfair advantage, said it had reached a deal with London.
“Our discussions with the UK authorities have led to an agreement,” Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani said in an e-mail.
“On this basis, Vice President (Joaquin) Almunia will propose to the college of commissioners to take a positive decision in this case. In principle, a decision should be taken within this mandate,” he said, confirming a Reuters story published on Sept. 17.
….Critics, ranging from lawyers to environmental campaigners to representatives of the renewable energy sector, say Britain’s plans would distort competition and flout EU law on when government subsidies are allowed.
The letter by some of those critics, which was seen by Reuters, went to the Competition Commissioner, as well as Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and his successor Jean-Claude Juncker. It says, “ultimately, no time will be gained by rushing through a determination and further increasing the areas for legal challenge”.
“Political pressure from the UK can in no way cancel out the legal requirements on state aid,” Paul Dorfman of the Energy Institute, University College London (UCL), one of the signatories of the letter sent on Monday, told Reuters.
The other 20 signatories include other academics, Green politicians and heads of renewable energy firms and associations.”