In its session of 6 November 2019, the Federal Council approved changes to the SEFV. Although BKW welcomes the Federal Council's decision to cut the 30% flat-rate safety surcharge, it cannot understand why the government has reduced the notional yield for the decommissioning and waste disposal funds from 2% to 1.6%. Since their establishment, the average returns for both funds have been well above 2% (decommissioning fund: 3.78%, disposal fund: 2.94% as at end 2018). Both funds have performed well since then, together finishing 2018 at about CHF 150 million above target. By the end of September 2019, the annual return for the funds was more than 10%.
Negative impact on planned investments
With the amendment to the SEFV, the Federal Council is imposing unnecessary reserve payments on BKW of about CHF 100 million for the Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant (KKM) alone. This will tie up money that is urgently needed for the energy future of Switzerland. In particular, it reduces the earmarked funds for the development of Swiss electricity production by the amount required for the reserve payments mandated by the Federal Council. This may have an impact on investments for planned hydroelectric plants, such as the Trift power plant and the raising of the Grimselsee dam. BKW is affected particularly by this amendment since the decommissioning of the Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant means it will have to pay additional reserve payments by 2022. For nuclear power plants of longer planned duration, these payments are spread over a longer period.
The lowering of the actual interest rates will be additionally aggravated by the Federal Council's decision to proscribe reimbursement from oversubscribed funds for decades.This equates to an expropriation of nuclear power plant operators. BKW is considering judicial steps against this measure. It regrets the Federal Council's failure to consider the numerous reservations against the amendment raised in the consultation process.
BKW confirms financial forecast
The amendment to the Ordinance on the Decommissioning and Waste Disposal Funds for Nuclear Facilities will impact BKW's financial statement 2019 with a one-off effect in the low double-digit millions. BKW stands by the increased forecast communicated in September (operating result of CHF 350 million - CHF 370 million).
A video on the SEFV amendment with statements from Suzanne Thoma, CEO of BKW, is available here. It is also available on BKW's social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.