British Nuclear Fuels has warned it could close its Chapel Cross nuclear power station in Scotland, with the loss of 400 jobs, if it is not guaranteed access to the 1,200MW Scotland England power link.
BNFL has sold the electricity produced by the 200MW station to England through the interconnector since 1988, when it was prohibited from supplying the Scottish market ahead of privatisation.
But the 10-year agreement securing BNFL access to the link expired in March, and Scottish Power which operates the interconnector said it needs all the capacity for itself.
Chapel Cross manager Mike Smith said that if the station had to sell its power at 1.4p 1.7p a unit instead of the 2.5p average in England the plant’s ‘viability, and with it the 400 jobs, would become questionable’.
Scottish Power has asked the industry regulator, Offer, to approve the reservation of the link’s total capacity for its own generator. BNFL’s access has been extended only until March 1999, but it has asked Offer to force Scottish Power to grant it continuing access.
National Power also wants guaranteed access to the link so that it can develop combined heat and power projects in Scotland. The generator argues that it needs to be able to sell the surplus power from the plants into England because the low operating costs of Scottish nuclear and hydro plants mean it cannot secure contracts in Scotland. One significant project has fallen through recently as a consequence, a spokesman said.
Offer has asked interested parties to comment on access to the link by 20 November.