We note with satisfaction the findings of the socio-economic study commissioned by the GPN. In Alpiq's opinion, it is entirely understandable that opinions are divided on the two projects examined (new nuclear power station and deep geological repository), since the parallel approach to discussions, coupled with uncertainty as to whether one or both projects will be implemented, has caused deep consternation among the public.
Nevertheless the statistics on acceptance for a new nuclear power station are astonishing. Our own findings, particularly in light of the last federal referenda on national nuclear power proposals, show a much higher vote of confidence than the study identified. For example, in 2003 voters in Niederamt overwhelmingly rejected the "Non-nuclear electricity" initiative, with up to 88.9 % voting against it. Moreover the study itself admits that 59% of Niederamt residents support the use of nuclear power. According to the authors of the latest study, the general attitude in Niederamt is therefore much more positive than elsewhere in Switzerland.
The study takes as its starting point the impact of the existing nuclear power station in Gösgen and goes on to assess the potential future effects of a new nuclear power station and of any deep geological depository.
The findings in terms of social impact, the public's attitude, economy and employment provide a comprehensive, stable basis for further discussion with the authorities and residents of Niederamt. It is important in this context to take the overall findings of the study into account when considering the individual points.
As expected, the study reveals that Gösgen nuclear power station – and possibly at a later stage a new nuclear power station in Niederamt – constitutes an important factor in the region in terms of jobs and tax revenue. The point is that this will generate direct added value for the region (salaries, taxes, contracts awarded to local suppliers) as well as indirectly adding value (the effect of spending in the region as a result of direct added value). For example, Niederamt nuclear power station would contribute more than CHF 100 million per year over the entire period. And these figures do not include the value-add in capital. Almost CHF 14 million a year in tax revenue from Gösgen nuclear power station flows into the coffers of the communities of Niederamt and the canton of Solothurn.
The job situation is also worth noting. The study assumes that the new Niederamt nuclear power station will directly and indirectly provide employment for 619 people over the operating phase (60 years): equivalent to almost 7.5% of all employed persons in Niederamt.
Overall, Alpiq welcomes the study and the fact that it has been made available to the general public. It will provide the basis for further pursuing the important dialogue in the interests of opinion-building.