The UK government has been criticised for exposing low-income households to the cost of building the Sizewell C nuclear power plant while letting factories “off the hook” as a crucial planning decision is due this week.
If given the green light, the government hopes to use a regulated asset base (RAB) funding model to finance the project, which is being proposed by the French energy firm EDF.
RAB reduces the risk to investors, who will receive regular payments before the project begins generating power. However, it also means customers pay for the construction costs through higher energy bills.
A consultation on using the RAB model is due to close next month and shows operators in energy-intensive industries would be exempt but households receiving universal credit would have to pay.
In the consultation, officials said the exemption for electricity-intensive users – such as factories – would avoid the risk of putting them at a “significant competitive disadvantage” when operating in international markets as they may have to add the costs to the price of their products.
MPs had suggested electricity suppliers should be prevented from recovering the costs of their RAB payment obligations from consumers who are on universal credit.
However, officials rejected this idea, saying such a measure could “disincentivise suppliers from engaging in commercially beneficial practices” such as payment plans and loyalty benefits to attract customers. They also argued other vulnerable consumers not claiming universal credit could also be affected by the move.
The Green party MP, Caroline Lucas, said: “When energy bills are skyrocketing right in the middle of a cost of living scandal, the last thing that people can afford is the ballooning costRead more on theguardian.com