(Updates with EDF statement, CEO quotes, details)
PARIS Jan 24 The board of French
state-controlled utility EDF has approved the
government's plan to compensate it for the planned closure of
the Fessenheim nuclear plant, against which trade unions have
protested over fears of possible job losses.
EDF and the French government agreed last year on a
compensation package for shutting down the site.
EDF said on Tuesday it would get an initial payment of
around 490 million euros ($526.7 million) covering costs
associated with Fessenheim's closure, and added it could then
get further payments up until 2041.
EDF also confirmed that Fessenheim's closure would require a
government decree, subject to EDF obtaining official
authorisation for its new generation EPR reactor in Flamanville
and for the re-start its 1,300-megawatt (MW) Paluel 2 nuclear
reactor which has been offline since May 2015.
This will enable the firm to maintain France's installed
nuclear electricity generation capacity at 63.2 gigawatts.
"This means that the commissioning of the Flamanville 3 EPR
is conditional upon the shutdown, on the same date, of an
equivalent generation capacity," EDF said in a statement.
Flamanville is expected to start in late 2018.
"With this decision ... EDF is guaranteeing compliance with
legislation imposing a ceiling for France's installed nuclear
electricity generation capacity, while at the same time
safeguarding to the utmost the interests of the company and its
customers," Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy said
in the statement.
EDF unions are against closing Fessenheim which they said
could lead to job losses and put French power supplies at risk.
The 1,800-MW Fessenheim plant in northeastern France was
commissioned in 1978 and is scheduled to stop production this
year following a 2012 election campaign promise by outgoing
President Francois Hollande.
Some candidates in France's April and May presidential
election, including conservative frontrunner Francois Fillon,
are against the closure. He has promised to halt the shutdown.
($1 = 0.9304 euros)
(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip
Kar-Gupta and David Evans)