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Taxpayer insulated from rising Hinkley Point costs says Hammond

LONDON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Taxpayers will not be on the hook for any additional costs incurred in the building of the new $24 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant, British finance minister Philip Hammond said.

A British parliamentary watchdog said in June that the deal to construct the nuclear power station, which is being built by French state-owned utility EDF, was risky.

It said the project could lead to requests for more cash and electricity payment top-ups worth 30 billion pounds ($40 billion). EDF said in July that costs at Hinkley Point were likely to be higher than it originally thought.

“Costs are not rising for the bill payer or the taxpayer. They may very well be rising for our development partners, but that’s their problem,” Hammond said on Tuesday.

Hammond also told lawmakers he was still supportive of the strike price agreement reached with EDF, which critics have said will make the electricity generated too expensive for consumers.

“It remains the government’s view that the strike price at Hinkley Point and the consequent potential CFD costs remain good value for money for base load electricity that doesn’t impose any significant additional grid-balancing costs.”

EDF’s UK arm EDF Energy is building the 18 billion pound ($24 billion) plant in southwest England with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), which has a 33.5 percent stake ($1 = 0.7535 pounds) (Reporting by William Schomberg and Alistair Smout; editing by Alexander Smith)

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