"Electricity generators made up to 950 million"

The long awaited National Bank report on the profits of the nuclear industry was published on Tuesday. The report says that the nuclear generators Electrabel and SPE make between 808 and 950 million euros thanks to the generation of nuclear energy.

The figure is important because it is one of the factors that the government will use to decide how much to charge the electricity companies in return for being allowed to keep Belgium's oldest nuclear power plants open for longer.

Under present legislation the oldest plants should close in 2015, but the outgoing administration agreed to extend their life span. The government collapsed before the necessary legislation could be steered through parliament.

The figure in the report from Belgium's central bank is closer to the profits claimed by Electrabel and is less than half the figure suggested by the energy watchdog CREG.

The report deals with the situation in 2007. It had already been established how much electricity was generated by nuclear means, though Electrabel and the CREG had been bickering about the exact production costs and the amount generated by electricity sales.

The government called in the National Bank to sort out the confusion. The new figures should allow the government to decide how much the electricity generators now need to contribute to the treasury annually.

The National Bank report clearly sides with the figures provided by the nuclear industry. It remains to be seen what will happen to the CREG if the government accepts the bank's figures.