Agreement reached on the planning and construction of replacement nuclear power stations

Axpo, Alpiq and BKW have agreed to join forces in further pursuing the planning and construction of two new nuclear power stations to replace nuclear power generating facilities in Switzerland which are nearing the end of their useful lives and compensate for long-term import agreements with France which are due to expire. This represents a milestone in the bid to ensure security of supply in Switzerland. Axpo, Alpiq and BKW will combine their current projects in a joint planning company. For the time being, all three projects will be further developed in parallel and accorded equal value. Decisions on sites or the order of priority will be made at a later stage.

Following intensive negotiations, Axpo (via its subsidiaries Axpo AG and Centralschweizerische Kraftwerke AG), Alpiq and BKW have agreed to proceed jointly in order to build two new nuclear power stations to replace nuclear power generating capacities which are reaching the end of their operating lives and compensate for French import agreements which are due to expire. This agreement is regarded by all parties as a milestone on the path towards secure, reliable power supplies in Switzerland.

Axpo, Alpiq and BKW each have a one-third stake in a joint planning and project company. The aim of this partnership is to draw up plans for three comparable projects until the definitive order of priority is determined. This will speed up the political process and official procedures, enable synergies to be exploited in the evaluation process, and save on costs. It will also create the foundations for a possible joint operating company in the future.

The definitive decision on the order of priority for implementation will be made before the „Draft message and decision” under the terms of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy's „General licensing procedure for new nuclear power plants“, i.e. as things stand at present, in mid-2012. The decision will be based on the final selection of sites as well as political and economic aspects and reviews, in particular the results of the ongoing official review of the three general licence applications. If this comprehensive assessment shows no relevant differences, the sites will be taken into consideration in the order in which the existing facilities are to be decommissioned.   The shareholdings of the three companies are as follows: Axpo 59% (Axpo AG 48.6%, CKW AG 10.4%), Alpiq 25.5%, BKW 15.5%. These ratios are commensurate with the three partners’ existing shares of Switzerland’s nuclear power generation facilities and do not reflect their share of the Swiss power supply market (Axpo 35%, Alpiq 24%, BKW 14%). For the first plant, the shareholder ratio will be slightly adjusted to account for various factors such as the operating terms of existing plants (Alpiq -3%, BKW +3%).

Axpo CEO Heinz Karrer emphasises “The agreement represents an important breakthrough. It will allow us to continue guaranteeing a virtually CO2-free mix of electricity from hydroelectric power, nuclear energy and new renewable energies well into the future.”

Alpiq CEO Giovanni Leonardi commented: “The agreement is a joint commitment by all three partners to energy security in our country.”

BKW CEO Kurt Rohrbach added: “Since the launch of negotiations, Axpo, Alpiq and BKW have endeavoured to find a consensual solution. We are delighted that this has now been achieved.”

Investments in energy security

Alongside energy efficiency, the promotion of renewable energies and cooperation with Europe, the Federal Council’s energy policy focuses in particular on the construction of replacement or new large-scale power stations. With this in mind and with a view to guaranteeing energy security in Switzerland, general licence applications for nuclear power stations in Niederamt (canton of Solothurn), Mühleberg (canton of Bern) and Beznau (canton of Aargau) were submitted to the Federal Office of Energy (FOE) by Alpiq in June 2008 and by Axpo subsidiaries Axpo AG and Centralschweizerische Kraftwerke AG jointly with BKW FMB Energy Ltd in December 2008 respectively. On 30 October 2009, the general licence application documents for the three projects, revised in line with the review by the Federal Nuclear Inspectorate (ENSI) in April 2009, were handed over to the FOE. In November 2010, the ENSI published an evaluation report confirming the three sites. According to the FOE, the Federal Council will decide on the three general licence applications in mid-2012, roughly five months later than originally planned.