Swedish utilities face sharp hike in waste fee

27 June 2014

Sweden's nuclear regulator proposes to almost double the fees paid by utilities in 2015 into the country's nuclear waste fund. The increase follows a recalculation of decommissioning and waste disposal costs.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, or SSM) assesses the amount Sweden's nuclear generators pay into the fund every three years. It bases its assessment partly on estimates from the Swedish spent fuel management company Svensk Karnbranslehantering AB (SKB).

According to SKB's latest cost calculations, total decommissioning and waste disposal costs are about SEK 136 billion ($20 billion). SKB says that some SEK 50 billion ($7.4 billion) has already paid into the waste fund.

However, SSM said SKB may have underestimated the cost of decommissioning and disposal from Sweden's nuclear power industry by at least SEK 11 billion ($1.6 billion). It said its own estimate is based on an analysis of future cost trends by the National Institute of Economic Research (NIER). SSM's estimate takes into account the low return anticipated for the waste fund and cost increases reported by SKB.

Fee increase

The regulator has recommended to the government that the fee for 2015 should be set at 3.8 öre (0.56 US cents) per kWh of nuclear electricity produced. The current level is 2.2 öre (0.33 US cents) per kWh. It said that SKB must implement a revised cost estimate, based on data produced by NIER, in order for a new fee calculation for 2016-17.

SKB president Christopher Eckerberg said that it will "carefully review the proposal in all its parts, and come back with our more developed vision in our consultation response." However, he noted that SKB "can already say that we would have preferred a longer term view of the rate used in the calculations." Eckerberg said that, as SKB's facilities would be in operation for another 70 years, short-term changes in interest rates should not lead to large changes in the waste fee paid.

SSM has requested feedback on the proposed new fee from industry by 1 September before it submits its formal recommendation to the government in October. The government is expected to make a final decision on the fee by the end of the year.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News