French nuclear plants to help fund energy goals: PM

PARIS Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:25pm EDT

France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault delivers his speech during a parliamentary debate on Syria at the National Assembly in Paris, September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault delivers his speech during a parliamentary debate on Syria at the National Assembly in Paris, September 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France will use some of the proceeds from its nuclear power plants, alongside a new carbon tax, to help fund an overhaul of the country's energy policy, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Saturday.

He did not specify the size of the contribution from nuclear power or how it would be applied.

Ayrault was detailing objectives set out by President Francois Hollande on Friday to cut fossil fuel use to support a long-term goal to halve energy consumption.

In addition to the flagship carbon tax, to be levied on fossil fuels from next year and which should raise 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in 2016, Ayrault said the government would raise funds from nuclear plants

"We will also mobilize part of the financial gains made on the existing nuclear fleet," Ayrault told a conference in Paris.

"For the remainder of our plants' lifetime and while ensuring the highest possible security of course, our nuclear fleet will be made to contribute," he said, referring to funding of so-called energy transition goals.

State-owned electricity group EDF operates France's 19 nuclear plants, which house 58 reactors.

No one at EDF was immediately available to comment on the proposed financial contribution.

France is currently the world's most nuclear-reliant country in its electricity supply.

Hollande reiterated on Friday an election promise to cut France's dependency on nuclear power from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025, starting with the closure of the country's oldest plant, Fessenheim, by the end of his term in 2017. ($1 = 0.7402 euros)

(Reporting by Marion Douet and Gus Trompiz; editing by Ron Askew)

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