Belgian court rejects nuclear tax complaint

18 July 2014

Electrabel said it will reconsider the future of its nuclear activities in Belgium after the Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal over the tax levied on nuclear power operators in 2012 by the Belgian government.

The government announced that the country's nuclear power plant operators would have to make a one-off payment of €250 million ($338 million) in 2008. However, in 2009 the government said it would postpone its planned nuclear phaseout but would charge nuclear operators an annual tax of €215 to 245 million ($290-331 million) over the period 2010-2014.

"The decision confirms the principle of a confiscatory, disproportionate charge, which undermines the viability of Electrabel's operational activities in Belgium."

Electrabel

Belgium's nuclear operators filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court in June 2013 against the nuclear contribution that had been set for 2012. The government had set a total contribution from the nuclear operators of €550 million ($742 million), of which Electrabel had to pay €479 million ($646 million).

Electrabel, part of the GDF-Suez group, claims that the contribution for 2012 "takes no account of the strong decline of the [financial] results from nuclear power production." It said that the €479 million payable by it in 2012 corresponds to its entire nuclear profits.

However, the court rejected the utilities' appeal, saying that it was "unfounded."

Difficult times


Electrabel noted that the situation in 2013 is even worse than in 2012 as the contribution of €422 million ($569 million) that it must pay, together with various taxes, is higher than the profits from its entire operational activities in Belgium. "This confiscatory fiscal pressure on Electrabel at a time when the company's economic situation has deteriorated resulted in losses for Electrabel in 2013 for the second year in succession." The company has already lodged an appeal against the 2013 contribution.

Electrabel said it will continue "to examine all potential legal means in order to defend its interests." However, it warned that if the "unreasonable and disproportional nature" of the nuclear contribution remains unchanged, it will "examine all options concerning the future of its nuclear activities in Belgium."

Belgium has two operating nuclear power stations with a total of seven reactors, which between them produce over half the country's electricity. GdF-Suez operates all seven units through its Electrabel subsidiary. This owns three of the units outright as well as 89.8% of another three (the remaining 10.2% being held by SPE). Electrabel jointly owns the remaining unit with France's EDF. So, although a levy against nuclear producers hits all three companies, Electrabel bears the brunt of the charge.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Filed under: Politics, Energy policy, Belgium