EDF Energy

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EDF Energy is one of the largest energy companies in the UK. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the mainly French state-owned EDF Group.

EDF Energy was an official partner and the official electricity supplier for the London Olympic Games 2012 and the Paralympics.

In October 2013 EDF appeared to have finally secured a deal after several years of protracted negotiations with the UK government to build the UK's first nuclear power plant in a generation.

Contents

Subsidiary of world's largest nuclear operator

EDF Energy is one of over 70 subsidiaries of the EDF Group,[1] [2] which when it took control of 80 per cent of the UK nuclear generator British Energy (BE) in 2009, became the world’s largest nuclear operator. EDF operates 58 nuclear reactors in France, eight in the UK and five in the US.[3][4][5]

The UK is probably the most important market for EDF outside of France. In 2011 sales in the UK were 8.6 billion euros, compared with 37.2 billion euros in France.[6] EDF generates between 6 and 12 per cent of the UK's energy (figures vary on its webpage) from coal, gas, nuclear and wind. It is the largest electricity supplier for London, the south-east and the south-west of England and as of August 2012 supplies energy to around 7.9 million customers (up from 5 million in 2006). It owns and manages the distribution network serving around a quarter of the UK population. [7]

EDF also owns what used to be London Electricity (LEB), Eastern Electricity, and South East Electricity (SEEBOARD plc). In the South West (SWEB Energy) area, the distribution network is owned by Western Power Distribution, but EDF supplies customers in that area.[8]

EDF’s coal, gas and nuclear generating plants, wind farms, and combined heat and power (CHP) plant include:

  • British Energy's eight nuclear power stations at Torness, Hunterston B, Hartlepool, Heysham 1 &2, Hinkley Point B, Dungeness B and Sizewell B.
  • Cottam coal-fired station (2,000MW) near Retford
  • West Burton coal-fired station (2,000MW)
  • Sutton Bridge Combined Cycle Gas Turbine station (790MW)
  • Barkantine CHP Plant – Tower Hamlets.
  • 62 MW offshore wind farm under construction off the coast of Redcar. The company also operates 20 onshore wind farms in north-east England.
  • a new 1,300MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station at its West Burton site, in Nottinghamshire.

EDF wants new UK nuclear reactors by 2017

Free fast-track nuclear power plants

As part of its submission to the UK government's 2006 energy review, EDF offered to build a new fleet of French designed nuclear power stations in Britain - at no cost to the taxpayer. The catch was that EDF wanted a system to guarantee the price of its electricity - and to fast track the planning process for any new plants. Pierre Gadonneix, the chairman and EDF Group CEO, said the company was "very willing" to play a role to make nuclear acceptable to public opinion. [9]

Later the same year, in October, EDF Energy's chief executive Vincent de Rivaz proclaimed that EDF Energy was moving from being "investors in waiting" to "investors in action" for new nuclear power in the UK. He told the Nuclear Energy Finance Forum that EDF had set up a UK nuclear project team which aimed to show the government it "can rely on us to deliver safe, reliable and economical new nuclear in the UK".

As investors, EDF needed to have confidence in the government, said de Rivaz. New nuclear investments would be made on time scales extending to eight parliaments or more. Given that political risk is a key factor in setting the capital cost of new nuclear, government policy and support were vital. It was essential, he said, that the UK government’s 2007 Energy White Paper gave a clear and unambiguous statement of the need for new nuclear in the long-term energy mix in the UK. Rivaz warned that Europe is facing an energy capacity crunch. By 2030, one trillion euros worth of investment in new energy capacity in Europe is needed to ensure energy security. [10]

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environment Agency and Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) published new guidance in early 2007 for the assessment of new reactor designs for any new nuclear power stations that may potentially be built in the UK. [11] EDF Energy said at that time it hoped to put in a pre-licensing application in early 2007, start pouring concrete in 2012 and open the first new reactor in 2017.

Applications from nuclear vendors interested in having their reactor designs assessed by the nuclear regulators were invited by 22 June 2007. EDF Energy and Areva submitted the European Pressurised Water Reactor design to the process. [12] In March 2008, the initial assessment of four nuclear power station designs was completed. No shortfalls in any of the designs were found.

EDF Energy began consulting on plans to build a new nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset in October 2008.[13] By the time it began the takeover of British Energy in January 2009 it was already clear that EDF Energy also wanted to build a new station at Sizewell in Suffolk. [14]

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Environment Agency said they were on course to complete a meaningful Generic Design assessment for the two proposed reactor designs by June 2011, but this was delayed pending an evaluation of lessons from the Fukushima accident. In December 2011 the ONR issued interim approval for the UK EPR with a long list of caveats – 31 so-called GDA Issues.[15]

EDF wanted public inquiries emasculated

As early as October 2006 Rivaz had claimed EDF was not looking for public subsidies - "just a framework which will allow us to invest in low-carbon generation and that includes nuclear". [16]

EDF Energy’s submission to the DTI on the proposed Nuclear Policy Framework highlighted “the need for a licensing and planning environment for new nuclear power stations that significantly reduces the risks associated with investment, by providing certainty in terms of timescale and cost. (emphasis added) [17]

The submission said EDF had identified a number of issues that should be addressed to “further reduce the risks associated with licensing and planning, and increase the certainty that investment in new nuclear will come forward”. In particular the company wanted public inquiries to be restricted to consideration of local issues, and it wanted the government to set out a clear timetable for implementation of the policy framework so that new reactors could be operational by 2017.

The short-lived Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) was set up in October 2009, opening fully for business in March 2010. Friends of the Earth described it as “an unelected, undemocratic body - the new Commissioners aren’t directly accountable to the people their decisions will affect. It’s going to be very difficult for local people to get their voices heard, especially with key documents being so technical and opportunities to attend inquiries so few. If people are unhappy with the process they’ll have to take the matter to court, which is extremely difficult and costly".[18]

EDF's nuclear land-grab

In mid-2008 it emerged that EDF had been quietly buying up land next nuclear power stations, putting itself in strong position if the next generation of nuclear power stations received the go-ahead. The Financial Times reported that EDF had bought parcels of land next to Hinkley B in Somerset and Wylfa on Anglesey. [19]

Ironically, some of the land near Hinkley was the site of a proposed wind farm. Renewable energy company Your Energy had been trying to get planning permission for nine turbines on the West Hinkley site since 2002, but faced what campaigners describe as 'continuous objections' from British Energy. [20]

NNB Generation Company

When EDF and Centrica bought British Energy in 2009 they set up NNB Generation Company (NNB GenCo) to build and operate new nuclear power stations in the UK. Centrica owns a 20 per stake in both companies. [21]

Hinkley Point C

In July 2010 NNB GenCo started a formal pre-application process for the authorisation of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. In December 2010 campaigners accused EDF Energy of ‘jumping the gun’ by applying for planning permission for what it called ‘preliminary works’. This involved trashing over 400 acres of woodland, cornfields and coastline, and the excavation of more than 3.2 million cubic metres of soil, sub-soil and rocks - more than was dug out to prepare the site for the 2012 London Olympic Games. [22] EDF Energy was given the go ahead for the preliminary works in July 2011.[23]

EDF Energy had been expected to submit its application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) in December 2010, but in the end it wasn’t submitted until the last day of October 2011. [24] Local people who attended the preliminary hearing of the IPC into the EDF Energy application were shocked at the limited scope of the inquiry and the attitude of the lead commissioner. When one local resident asked who would look at the dangers of nuclear power and the impact on the health of local children, she was told the point was irrelevant and her microphone was turned off. [25]

Lobbying

EDF does a lot of lobbying. It played a key role in pushing for a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK, through submissions for the Energy White Paper and UK Energy Review 2007 and a number of select committee reports, and briefings to ministers. [26]

More recently it has appointed lobbying firms such as Pagefield and PPS Group to help it win the public over and smooth the regulatory path for its proposed new nuclear reactors at Sizewell C and Hinkley Point C.

For more information see the Powerbase page EDF: Lobbying

Secondments

In February 2013, NuclearSpin.org revealed that EDF Energy had seconded two staff to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) at the Health and Safety Executive. One was interim programme manager for the ONR's programme at the Sellafield plant in Cumbria. The other was a technical assistant on the Decommissioning Fuel and Waste Programme. The ONR said that all secondees are paid for by the nuclear industry and it has safeguards in place to ensure there is no conflict of interest. It added that no secondee works on matters directly related to their parent organisation.[27]

Threatened civil lawsuit against No Dash for Gas activists

In February 2013 EDF Energy took the unusual and highly controversial step of seeking an estimated £5 million in damages from environmental activists from the No Dash for Gas campaign that occupied the EDF-owned West Burton CCGT power station in October 2012. Writer George Monbiot declared that EDF was conducting a strategic lawsuit against public participation", "part of a global strategy by corporations to stifle democracy".

A strong public backlash prompted 64,000 people to sign a Change.org petition against the energy firm's civil lawsuit; a month later it had dropped its claim The Guardian reported that:

EDF said it had dropped the civil action as part of a settlement with the protesters, which it called a "fair and reasonable solution".
Following an offer we received from the protesters' lawyers to settle the civil case, EDF Energy has been working to agree a compromise agreement acceptable to both parties," said a spokesman.
The protesters, who have all pleaded guilty in court to aggravated trespass, have agreed in principle to accept a permanent injunction which prevents them from entering multiple sites operated by EDF Energy. As a result of this, EDF Energy is dropping its claim for civil damages against them and believes that this is a fair and reasonable solution. [28]

Part of efforts to neuter anti-nuclear protest?

In October 2012 a Department of Energy and Climate Change document released to Spinwatch under Freedom of Information laws revealed that EDF was one of three nuclear companies present at a National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) meeting on 'activism and nuclear new build' held Whitehall in June 2011. Also present were government officials from BIS, DECC and the Home Office, along with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a specialist force for guarding nuclear power sites. The other companies were NuGen and Horizon.

Police officers from three areas where new nuclear stations are planned were also involved – Avon and Somerset (Hinkley Point), Suffolk (Sizewell) and North Wales (Wylfa). [29]

All names of officials, police officers and industry attendees, however, were redacted. The meeting's stated purpose was to:

  • obtain an agreed understanding of the available intelligence on the risk to the new build programme from environmental activism
  • identify key stakeholder concerns and issues
  • identify any potential gaps in arrangements for managing the risk of direct action or protests at new build sites or to identify areas where further clarity is needed'

You can view the document Annex 4 Activism and Nuclear New Build: Stakeholder Roundtable Thursday 9 June at 10.00am, Room G07, 55 Whitehall at Spinwatch's website.

Decentralised energy for London or greenwash trap?

EDF claims to be committed to sustainability and donates to regional and local green initiatives.

In March 2006, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone announced that EDF Energy had been chosen to work in partnership with the London Climate Change Agency to drive forward work that will provide decentralised, more efficient energy supplies for London. EDF was the preferred bidder to set up a joint venture energy services company to develop sustainable energy schemes for London.

The company will identify and develop sites across the capital where investment in sustainable energy technology will reduce carbon dioxide emissions, by encouraging the use of combined heat and power and renewable energy. Not only could this lead to a more secure and sustainable energy supply for London, but also to reduced household bills.

CEO Vincent de Rivaz saw no contradiction in promoting Decentralised Energy and lobbying for new nuclear reactors in the UK. He said, “EDF Energy believes that a diverse mix of energy is the key to security of supply for the UK in the longer term and central to the fight against climate change. Local solutions will need to play their part as part of that diverse mix”. [30]

The partnership planned to roll out combined heat and power units across London; all new social housing developments will soon have to be nearly 60 per cent more efficient than previously. [31]

Ken Livingstone called on the government to abandon plans for new nuclear power stations. [32] But he told The Guardian that he sees “no contradiction with the fact that EDF also generates energy elsewhere that is not sustainable”. He says that whilst he doesn’t agree with them on nuclear power, it would be churlish of him to turn down millions of pounds of investment in the renewable energy alternatives”. [33] Clearly concerned that Livingstone might be giving the nuclear proponents a public relations coup, The Guardian responded by pointing out that EDF had declared its interest in building 10 new nuclear plants in the UK with at least some of them likely to be built near London. [34]

Climate balance - misleading consumers?

In a further attempt to bolster its environmental credentials, EDF Energy invited customers to pay an extra 0.42p (incl VAT) per unit of electricity and 0.147p per unit of gas to be spent on carbon offsetting projects. The examples it gives are the promotion of efficient cooking stoves in Bangladesh and reforestation projects in Uganda.[35]

The Guardian said this scheme was launched amid growing disquiet among environmentalists about carbon offsetting and just days after Scottish & Southern Energy was ordered to stop using a leaflet detailing its tree-planting carbon-offset project - a similar scheme - because it misled consumers.[36]

Friends of the Earth says it is increasingly concerned about the basis of carbon-offset schemes. "If companies are genuinely concerned about climate change they should focus their attention on cutting their emissions and using clean sources of energy."

Olympic Games bid supporter

EDF Energy was also the first company to sign up as a Premier Partner of the bid to bring the Olympics to London. It said it wanted to help ensure London 2012 was the “most environmentally friendly and sustainable games ever seen”. The company:

  • Provided £1million in sponsorship to London 2012
  • Branded over 2,000 vans and 20 of its buildings with the London 2012 logo
  • Ran a £1million Sports for Schools campaign with the London Evening Standard
  • £350k provided to schools for school grounds and sports equipment through the EDF Energy Fit For Fun Awards and our staff focused Cash for Schools scheme.
  • Promoted the bid through broadcast sponsorship of the Boat Race and the European Rugby Cup, 140 banners across central London, perimeter board advertising at sporting events, Getty Gallery sponsorship, press competitions.
  • Encouraged participation in sport through the EDF Energy Weekend Workout in conjunction with ITV London.
  • 3,400 of its staff signed up as "Olympic Ambassadors"
  • Provided the London 2012 Countdown Clock "Powered by EDF Energy" in Trafalgar Square
  • Promoted the bid to its customers through customer communications materials and the London 2012 logo on its envelopes. [37]

The way to a man’s heart? Football

The company, which only started to use the EDF Energy name across its five million customers in May 2006, used its sponsorship of ITV’s coverage of the FIFA World Cup in June 2006 as a way of increasing its brand recognition. [38]

In August 2006 EDF Energy agreed a three-year deal with the Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby Ltd to sponsor the Anglo-Welsh Cup – a period when public support for new nuclear reactors was critical to whether or not they would be built. The competition therefore changed its name from the Powergen Cup to the EDF Energy Cup. [39]

Rivaz was clear that the sponsorship was to “help us build on the brand awareness” following on from the company’s sponsorship of the ITV World Cup coverage. Sounding rather like someone building a fifth column he said the deal would help EDF build a connection with almost 2,000 amateur rugby clubs which are at the heart of their communities – a grassroots dimension which is a vital part of developing a relationship with its customers. A strategy the company clearly believes has worked in France. EDF Group has contributed to the development of French rugby from grassroots to the professional level, for more than three decades, and was one of the sponsors of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. [40]

JD Power's survey of more than 2,500 people, however despite its support for sport, ranked EDF Energy as the gas and electricity supplier with the lowest customer satisfaction score in 2006.[41]

EDF's sponsorship of the Anglo-Welsh Cup in Rugby ended in 2009.

Who runs EDF Energy?

Executive officers

Non-Executive Directors

As at August 2013

[44]

Former Non-executive Directors

Staff

  • Steph Godderidge, Climate Change Network Manager at EDF Energy, previously London 2012 Programme UK Brand Manager and Brand Integrity Manager [45]
  • Gareth Wynn, Head of Communications EDF Energy Nuclear New Build, appointed December 2012. Previously headed EDF Energy's Olympic and Paralympic work

Media team

  • Tim McCoy, Head of Media Relations. A former BBC journalist for over 14 years as reporter, producer and programme editor for both radio and television news programmes, he joined EDF media team in September 2012 after three years as Starbucks comms chief; before that was director of comms at Blue Rubicon from 2008-2009.[42] Reports to Andrew Brown.
  • Stephen Walker – External Communications Assistant: 020 7752 2159

Staff dealing with media on 'existing nuclear fleet, nuclear new build plans and other generation issues including renewables. [47]

Former staff

  • Richard Mayson, Former Director of Planning and External Affairs for Nuclear New Build, EDF Energy
  • Martin Lawrence, EDF Energy, Former Managing Director, Energy Sourcing and Customer Supply
  • Nigel Knee, Former Head of Nuclear Policy and Nuclear New Build, EDF Energy. Was previously part of British Energy’s strategy and business development team, focusing on the opportunity for new nuclear build.
  • Bobby Dean - Account Executive from PPS Group who was seconded to Communications Team at EDF Energy for four months in July 2011 – October 2011 (4 months) to assist in the co-ordination and delivery of the Hinkley Point C Consultation Report to the Infrastructure Planning Commission. [48]

Affiliations

Resources, Notes

NuclearSpin resources

External resources

Website

Notes

  1. EDF International Presence EDF Group website (accessed November, 2006) EDF Energy profile, LinkedIn, accessed 10 August 2012
  2. Terry Macalister, “Nuclear Sector Calls for New Agency”, Guardian, 9 October, 2006.
  3. Year 2011 Facts and Figures EDF 2012, accessed August 2012.
  4. EDF Energy, 'EDF Energy Nuclear Generation: Our journey towards zero harm', undated, accessed 29 August 2012
  5. EDF, Centrica spend $300 million on new UK reactor program, Platts 25th October 2010, accessed August 2012.
  6. 2011 News/Global Issues, EDF Activity and Sustainable Development Report 2011.
  7. About Us EDF Energy Website (accessed November, 2006).
  8. EDF Energy website: 'About EDF Energy' undated, accessed February 2006.
  9. Faisal Islam, "Going Fission", Channel Four News, 12 April 2006.
  10. Pearl Marshall, “UK's climate, energy policies encourage EDF investment”, Nucleonics Week, Vol. 47, No. 44, 2 November, 2006.
  11. Guidance: assessment of new nuclear power stations Office for Nuclear Regulation website, accessed August 2012.
  12. Areva British Energy move for new UK nuclear, World Nuclear News 20 June 2007, accessed August 2012.
  13. EDF Energy Press Release, 14 October 2008, accessed August 2012.
  14. EDF Energy Press Release, 9th January 2009, accessed August 2012.
  15. Work remains on UK EPR, despite progress i-Nuclear 15 December 2011, accessed August 2012.
  16. Mark Milner, “No Subsidies for Nuclear says Energy Minister”, The Guardian, 11 October, 2006.
  17. EDF Energy Response to the DTI Consultation on the Policy Framework for New Nuclear Build, October, 2006
  18. New Infrastructure Planning Commission fails to give people a proper say on major projects, Friends of the Earth Press Release 1st October 2009, accessed August 2012
  19. Ed Crooks and Rebecca Bream, EDF snaps up 'nuclear' land, Financial Times, 9 May 2008
  20. Wind-farm rights sold to nuclear developer, Stop Hinkley Campaign press release, 13 May 2008
  21. EDF, Centrica spend $300 million on new UK reactor program, Platts 25th October 2010, accessed August 2012.
  22. EDF “Jumping The Gun” with Hinkley Point destruction, Stop Hinkley Press Release 1 December 2010, accessed August 2012
  23. Hinkley C nuclear power station gets green light for preparatory work, Guardian 29 July 2011, accessed August 2012.
  24. Walker, A. Project progress analysis as Hinkley Point application made, Planning Act 2008 Blog, No.291, 2nd November 2011, accessed August 2012
  25. Government bully boy Sir Andrew Phillipson sets the tone of Infrastructure Planning Commission's examination of EDF's application to build Nuclear Power Station in Somerset, Stop Hinkley Press Release 22 March 2012, accessed August 2012.
  26. EDF, "EDF Energy and Sustainability Performance Report 2007", EDF Homepage. accessed 17/02/09
  27. Richard Cookson, Nuclear industry secondments to Government departments responsible for policy and regulation, Spinwatch, 22 February 2013
  28. James Ball, EDF drops lawsuit against environmental activists after backlash theguardian.com, Wednesday 13 March 2013 13.08 GMT, acc 2 September 2013
  29. Rob Edwards in cooperation with Spinwatch, Police trying to neuter anti-nuclear protest, 02 October 2012
  30. EDF Energy Press Release, “Mayor Announces EDF Energy as Partner to Develop Climate Change Initiatives for London”, 6 March, 2006.
  31. John Vidal, “Plane Speaking”, The Guardian, 1 November, 2006.
  32. Ken Livingstone, “Why Nuclear Power is out of the Question”, The Guardian, 19 April, 2006.
  33. Ken Livingstone, Letter to the Guardian, 18 March, 2006.
  34. John Henley, “Guardian Diary”, The Guardian, 21 March, 2006.
  35. Climate Balance, EDF Energy Website (accessed November, 2006).
  36. Miles Brignall, “EDF offers Customers Change to Join Carbon Offset Set”, The Guardian, 16 October, 2006.
  37. EDF Energy Press Release, London Wins Bid to Host 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 6 July, 2005.
  38. EDF Energy Press Release, New Look for Power Firm, 19 May, 2006.
  39. Rugby Football Union Press Release, EDF Energy to Sponsor UK’s Premier Cup Competition, 1 August, 2006.
  40. Rugby World Cup 2007 website (accessed November, 2006).
  41. “Customer Satisfaction Drops as Fuel Prices Rise”, The Guardian, 3 November, 2006.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Alec Mattinson, EDF recruits McCoy to lead media team, prweek.com, Thursday, 06 September 2012, 9:40am
  43. As at April 2013
  44. Our Board of Directors, EDF Energy, acc 10 August 2013
  45. Steph Godderidge, Linkedin.com
  46. Victoria MacGregor profile, LinkedIn, accessed 28 May 2012
  47. EDF Energy, Media Contacts, EDF website, acc 2 September 2013
  48. Bobby Dean, LinkedIn, accessed 19 May 2012
  49. Nuclear Development Forum 15 May 2012 Attendee List
  50. I-Nuclear, UK investment in new nuclear could boost GDP by £5 billion/year; add many thousands of jobs, June 25, 2012, acc same day
  51. Funding, Science Media website, accessed 20 September 2012
  52. EDF Energy Regional Media Awards,EDF website page, undated, acc 2 Sept 2013
  53. Professor Kamran Nikbin, Nuclear Safety, REporter, Imperial College London, 4 May 2012, acc Sept 2013
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