Bloomberg News

French Nuclear Pullout Would Cost Industry Jobs, Lobby Says

November 23, 2011

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- A proposed French phase-out of nuclear power would push up electricity costs and threaten millions of industrial jobs, according to a power users’ lobby.

“Pulling out of nuclear would deal a severe if not fatal blow” to French industry,” Uniden, which represents 37 big energy consumers in France, said today in a statement. The organization estimates that 150,000 direct and indirect jobs would be at immediate risk and as many as 2 million in future.

Debate about France’s dependence on nuclear power intensified last week after the opposition Socialist and Greens parties agreed to campaign for the closure of 24 nuclear reactors by 2025. The government and atomic operators Electricite de France SA and Areva SA have since redoubled efforts to defend nuclear energy, given the country depends on it for more than three-quarters of its power needs.

For some factories, electricity represents as much as 70 percent of production costs, said Uniden, whose members include Areva, ArcelorMittal, Lafarge SA, Renault SA, PSA Peugeot Citroen SA, Total SA and Vallourec SA.

Factories may be relocated to other countries if power prices rise due to higher production costs from other energy supplies, the organization said.

French power prices for industry in the first half of 2011 were the lowest among 29 European countries with the exception of Bulgaria, Estonia and Finland, according to statistics published by the European Commission.

Complete Exit

Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate for the May presidential election, has called for a reduction in the country’s reliance on nuclear power to 50 percent of its needs by 2025 compared with more than three quarters. EDF Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio said a complete exit from nuclear energy would cost 400 billion euros ($534 billion) and threaten one million jobs.

“Getting out of nuclear is a moral and industrial question,” Eva Joly, candidate for the Europe Ecologie-Les Verts Party, said today on RTL radio. “I am happy the debate about nuclear is now on the table.”

The Socialist-Greens plan is “absurd” and would cost jobs, Industry Minister Eric Besson told parliament today.

--Editors: Stephen Cunningham, Alex Devine.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net


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