§ 38. Mr. Morgan
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what minimum proportion of the minimum non-fossil fuel generated electricity in the privately owned electricity industry structure he proposes for England and Wales he envisages will be generated from nuclear stations.
§ Mr. Parkinson
[pursuant to his reply, 28 March 1988, c. 295–96.]: As the White Paper on privatising electricity (Cm. 322) made clear, the Government have decided that the obligation will be expressed in terms of a requirement for the distribution companies to contract for a specified minimum proportion of non-fossil fuelled capacity. This will ensure that both nuclear capacity and renewable sources of power will be able to make a contribution to maintaining diversity of fuel sources in the electricity supply system. The distribution companies will be able to seek such capacity from any source, including own generation (within any general limits on this that may be laid down), providing any necessary safety, planning and other consents are obtained. The obligation will set a minimum level of non-fossil fuelled capacity; there will be nothing to prevent distribution companies contracting for or generating companies building a higher level of plant.
It is intended that the requirement will be embodied in an order in the form of a statutory instrument made by the Secretary of State under powers to be sought in the main privatisation legislation. What follows is therefore subject to Parliament approving that legislation.
The Government believe that, in order to give an effective and clear statement of strategic priorities, and to set the background for the series of power station applications submitted and intended to be submitted by the Central Electricity Generating Board (the benefit of which will be transferred to the CEGB's successor companies), it would be right to set the obligation as a level to be obtained in the future. The White Paper made it clear that the proportion of non-fossil fuelled generating capacity required to be under contract would be fixed at a level achievable at the time of privatisation. The precise level is still under consideration. However the Governent's present intention is that, when it is set, the figure for the year 2000 will not be below the present level of existing and committed nuclear and renewable generating capacity.