Friday, November 17, 2006

Nuke Head Rolls At British Energy

The chief nuclear officer at British Energy (BE) has left the company. Roy Anderson, who was responsible for the company's nuclear generating operations, has stepped down with immediate effect. CEO Bill Coley will take direct control of nuclear operations.
The move is part of a major internal reorganisation as the company works to return four of its damaged reactors to service at 70% capacity by the end of January 2007. Problems at six of the group's seven ageing Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGRs) have seriously affected the share price. Although bouncing back from below £4, at £4.60 the share price is well below its 12-month high of £7.60 in August 2006, and has fallen 2% today on the latest news.
The slump in the share price has delayed the UK government's plans to sell off part of its 65% stake in the company. There seems to be no relief in sight; BE predict there will be a “significant impact” on output and financial performance for the rest of the financial year.
How the problems will affect the UK public's attitude towards nuclear power remains to be seen. Perhaps BE's latest PR initiative will make a difference. "The Power Game" is a free game on CD-ROM. As BE's accompanying blurb puts it:

To illustrate the complex interactions between the UK's future electricity options we have developed "The Power Game". "The Power Game" lets you decide the future of the UK's electricity generation industry. As existing power stations close you must chose which new stations to build in order to meet the country's power demands. You could build a mix involving coal, gas, nuclear and a host of renewable technologies. You must choose carefully, however, as you must meet the country's commitment to reduce CO2 emissions as well as ensuring security of supply and affordable prices.

Anyone who really thinks the long-term future of the UK's, or indeed the world's, power supply is a game, can find out more here.

BE share price
BE Interim results