Cutting French nuclear share would boost bills -report

* Findings aim to fuel debate on nuclear before election

* France would lose its advantage if it cut nuclear -UFE

PARIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Cutting the share of nuclear in France’s electricity mix to 50 percent by 2030, down from three quarters now, would cost 60 billion euros ($82.5 billion) more than keeping the mix unchanged, the French Electricity Union (UFE) said on Monday.

If the share of nuclear energy in the electricity mix was unchanged by 2030, the country’s electricity bill would reach 322 billion euros, a report by the UFE showed.

The UFE is mainly composed of French utilities, a sector dominated by state-owned EDF . Its findings are intended to fuel debate on nuclear energy ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

While the ruling UMP party wants to maintain nuclear energy despite growing opposition after the Fukushima disaster, socialist presidential hopeful Francois Hollande has promised to cut nuclear power output capacity to 50 percent by 2025.

France first opted for a full-blown nuclear energy programme with minimal public debate after the first oil crisis in 1974 and continued to support nuclear power even after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

EDF operates 58 nuclear reactors, is building a 59th one in northwestern France and has plans for a 60th reactor.

The report also argues that if France decided to cut its nuclear energy share it would lose its competitive advantage in terms of tariffs and its savings in CO2 emissions.

French electricity bills are among the cheapest in Europe.

If nuclear production capacity was unchanged by 2030, electricity tariffs would rise by 33 percent for households and by 41 percent for businesses compared to 2010, the report added.

But if the share of nuclear energy in the electricity mix was pushed down to 50 percent, tariffs would jump by 50 percent for homes and 65 percent for businesses, according to the UFE. ($1 = 0.727 Euros) (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Editing by Anthony Barker)