E.ON

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Background

E.ON is an international energy company, headquartered in Germany, with interests in Europe, Russia and the US. [1] It operates nuclear power stations in Germany and Sweden.[2]

It also owns a part-share in Urenco, a British-Dutch-German owned nuclear fuel company operating several uranium enrichment plants in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.

E.ON UK is the second largest electricity generator in the UK, and a leading energy supplier with around eight million electricity and gas customer accounts. Through its retail business, E.ON Energy Solutions, it supplies energy to homes as well as small-medium-enterprises and industrial customers across the country. [3]

E.ON UK operates 10 coal, gas and oil-fired power stations which generate around 10 per cent of the UK's electricity. It also operates up to 20 wind farms, an extensive biomass co-firing programme and one of the UK’s largest dedicated biomass power stations. It is building the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array in the Thames Estuary. It also has 13 large-scale Combined Heat and Power plants across the UK. [4]

E.ON's nuclear power stations

Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.

Germany

Two of E.ON’s nuclear power stations in Germany were closed down in March 2011 following the Fukushima accident in Japan. These were Unterweser [5] and Isar-1. [6] Two other stations, Wuergassen and Stade, had previously been withdrawn from service for commercial reasons in 1994 [7] and November 2003 respectively. [8]

This leaves E.ON with operational responsibility for four German nuclear reactors. According to Germany's nuclear phase-out these must be withdrawn from service by 31 December of the year indicated: Grafenrheinfeld (2015), Brokdorf (2021), Grohnde (2021), Isar 2 (2022). [9]

E.ON owns 100 per cent of Unterweser, Isar-1 and Grafenrfeinfeld, 80 per cent of Brockdorf (Vattenfall owns 20 per cent) [10]; 83.3 per cent of Grohnde (Stadtwerke Bielefeld owns 16.7 per cent) [11] and 75 per cent of Isar-2 (25% owned by Stadtwerke München). [12]

In addition, E.ON has equity in the following nuclear plants: Kruemmel 50 per cent (shutdown); Brunsbuettel 33.3 per cent (shutdown); Gundremmingen B& C 25 per cent (closing 2012 and 2012); Emsland 12.5 per cent (closing 2022). [13]

Sweden

E.ON operates and has a majority stake (54.5 per cent) in OKG, which has three reactors at Oskarshamn, 29.6 per cent of the Ringhals nuclear power plant which has four reactors, and 8.5 per cent of the Forsmark nuclear plant, which has three reactors. [14]

Finland

In June 2007, E.ON joined a consortium of 70 industrial and energy companies to establish a joint venture company – Fennovoima Oy – to construct a new nuclear power plant in Finland. In January 2009, Fennovoima submitted its application to the government for a decision-in-principle, which was granted in May 2010. In October 2011 the company chose a site on the Hanhikivi peninsula on the coast of Bothnian Bay. E.ON is the lead member of the consortium with a 34 per cent share. The Hanhikivi 1 plant would be an EPR or Toshiba's version of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR). Work had been expected to start in 2012, but has now been delayed two years to 2014. [15]

United Kingdom

In January 2009 E.ON UK formed a joint venture with RWE npower, called Horizon Nuclear Power, with the aim of developing up to 6600 MW of new nuclear power station capacity at Wylfa on Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. [16] Three years later, following the conclusion of separate strategic reviews in March 2012, both E.ON and RWE announced their intention to withdraw from UK nuclear and seek new owners for Horizon. [17]

In July 2012 it emerged that E.ON had colluded with government officials to soften the impact of their withdrawal from Horizon on the UK’s new nuclear programme. [18]

'Environmentally friendly’ nuclear power

When E.ON announced the RWE joint venture, group chief executive Dr Wulf Bernotat described nuclear power “as a carbon dioxide free energy resource” and “one of the most efficient ways to produce energy while protecting the climate from CO2 ... a reliable and low carbon source of electricity.” [19]

So, in common with other energy companies, E.ON has repositioned nuclear as a green form of power.

Coal and carbon capture and storage in the UK

In December 2006, E.ON submitted a planning application to build the UK’s first coal-fired power station for 20 years at Kingsnorth in Kent. [20] After two years of protests against its plans, it quietly announced on its website on 7 October 2009 that it was shelving the project, blaming a dramatic fall in energy demand which it said made Kingsnorth redundant. It said it would reconsider in two or three years and could go ahead if energy prices recovered. [21]

A year later the company said it was pulling Kingsnorth out of the government's carbon capture and storage competition, because it could not meet competition timescales. Dr Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK said because they had postponed building the new power station it would have no plant on which to build a carbon capture and storage facility.[22]

On 23rd August 2012, E.ON declared that it would not build any more coal or gas-fired plant in Western Europe until at least 2020. [23]

Dictating government guidelines on Kingsnorth

In April 2009 leaked emails revealed that E.ON was dictating government guidelines on the need for carbon capture and storage (CCS) on the proposed new coal plant at Kingsnorth. The emails showed a civil servant from the Department of Business writing to E.ON asking whether they should include a condition that CCS would be in place. E.ON responded that the secretary of state "has no right to withhold approval for conventional plant" and the civil servant (Gary Mohammed) agreed immediately that he would not include CCS as a condition. [24]

Given police intelligence on climate protesters

In the same month it was also revealed that police intelligence on Climate Camp protesters at Kingsnorth, including their names and whereabouts, was passed to E.ON by government officials. This led to claims that policing was partisan, colluding with the energy companies to quash protest. The freedom of information (FOI) request by the Liberal Democrats also showed that the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) had shared strategy and planning documents with E.ON, and attempted to coordinate their media strategies before the demo. Many sections of the FOI response, which was initially refused but released on appeal, were blacked out.[25]

E.ON was accused of exaggerating claims in the media about the potential threat posed by climate protests. It claimed that 300,000 homes could be affected if the demo entered the power station, when in fact operations had already been stopped by E.ON and power was available from the rest of the grid.[26]

Spying on environmental activists

E.ON was also caught out hiring private security firm, Vericola, to spy on environmental activists. According to the Guardian:

E.ON said it had hired Vericola and another security firm, Global Open, on an "ad hoc" basis as its executives wanted to know when environmentalists were going to demonstrate at or invade its power stations and other premises, as they had done in the past. The E.ON spokesman said it asked Vericola only for publicly available information and if Todd (CEO of Vericola) and her colleagues had obtained private information, they had done so "under their own steam".

Two other energy companies which had used Vericola's services, SRG and Scottish Power, did not comment. [27]

PR and lobbying

  • Edelman - Chris Rumfitt, MD of Edelman's public affairs practice has 'advised E.ON on high profile issues around nuclear new build'.[28]
  • Lexington Communications - lists E.On UK as a public affairs client from December 2011 to May 2012 [29][30]
  • PPS Group- lists E.ON Rampion (windpower) as a public affairs client from December 2011 to May 2012 [31]
  • Cherton Enterprise - lists E.ON’s Energy from Waste division as a client from March to May 2012 [32]
  • Fishburn Hedges worked for E.ON in 2005. [33]
  • Ecuity Consulting - lists E.ON as a client – this will be in connection to their membership of the Micropower Council and promotion of Micro-CHP and small-scale renewables. [34]

E.ON’s teaching packs for schools

E.ON is engaged in “a major new programme” to produce and promote teaching packs for schools. Designed to support the geography and science curricula for young people aged 5-16 in England, Scotland and Wales, the E.ON Energy Experience, according to the website “doesn't tell young people about energy, it allows them to experience it”. [35] One activity encourages children to debate the motion: ‘Our class believes that nuclear is the right choice to meet the UK’s energy needs in the 21st century.’ Teachers can download an ‘activity card’[36] to help them plan a lesson on the nuclear power debate. While the teaching pack website[37] has broken links to Greenpeace and the World Nuclear Association it also points students towards coverage of the Chernobyl disaster.

Who runs E.ON UK?

E.ON UK's website provides a list of its senior executives: [38]

  • Tony Cocker, Chief Executive. He started working for E.ON (then Powergen) in 1997 previously worked for Bass plc and for the LEK Partnership.
  • Don Leiper is Director of New Business for E.ON Energy Solutions. He first joined the energy industry with East Midlands Electricity (later becoming part of Powergen) in 1992 after previously qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and working for a London-based accountancy firm.
  • Jeremy Davies is Marketing Director of E.ON Energy Solutions. He previously worked for Abbey.
  • David Bird is Customer Service Director for E.ON UK. He joined the company in July 2009. Prior to his role with E.ON, David spent five years as Customer Service Director at National Express.
  • Fiona Stark is Director of Corporate Affairs. She joined the company in 1989.
  • Sue LaVerne is Managing Director of Business Services.

2013

Affiliations

External resources

Notes

  1. E.ON website: 'Who we are: An overview', undated, accessed August, 2012.
  2. E.ON Annual Report 2011, See page 133, para 2, accessed July, 2012. See also E.ON website: 'Nuclear Power in the Energy Mix', undated, accessed July, 2012.
  3. E.ON website: 'Regional Units: United Kingdom, undated, accessed August 2012
  4. E.ON UK website: 'Generation', undated, accessed August 2012
  5. E.ON website: 'Kernkraftwerk Unterweser', undated, accessed August 2012
  6. E.ON website: 'Kernkraftwerk Isar', undated, E.ON website accessed August 2012.
  7. E.ON website: 'Kernkraftwerk Wuergassen', undated, accessed August 2012
  8. E.ON website: 'Kernkraftwerk Stade', undated accessed August 2012
  9. E.ON website: 'Current Information undated, E.ON website accessed August 2012
  10. Nuclear Power in Germany, World Nuclear Association, July 2012, accessed August 2012.
  11. E.ON website: 'Gemeinschaftskernkraftwerk Grohnde', undated, accessed August 2012.
  12. E.ON website: Kernkraftwerk Isar, undated, accessed August 2012.
  13. Nuclear Power in Germany, World Nuclear Association, July 2012, accessed August 2012.
  14. 'Nuclear Power in Sweden', World Nuclear Association, June 2012, accessed August 2012. Also see E.ON Fact and Figures, March 2012, E.ON website, accessed August 2012. See page 7.
  15. Nuclear Power in Finland, World Nuclear Association, April 2012, accessed August 2012.
  16. Horizon Nuclear Power website, undated, accessed August 2012.
  17. E.ON Press Release 29 March 2012
  18. Rob Edwards, Emails reveal UK Government's moves to protect nuclear power from bad news, Guardian, 19th July 2012, accessed July 2012
  19. E.ON Press Release 14 January 2009.
  20. E.ON Press Release, 11th December 2006.
  21. Webb,T and Jha, A Siege of Kingsnorth declared over as E.ON pulls out of plan for coal power plant, Guardian, 8 October 2009.
  22. E.ON Press Release 20 October 2010.
  23. E.ON drops gas/coal plant building in W.Europe-company Reuters 23rd August 2012, accessed 3rd September 2012.
  24. George Monbiot, Allies against democracy The Guardian, Comment is Free. 20 April, 2009. Accessed 13/05/10
  25. Matthew Taylor and Paul Lewis Secret police intelligence was given to E.ON before planned demo The Guardian, Comment is Free. 20th April, 2009. Accessed 13/05/10
  26. George Monbiot Allies against democracy The Guardian, Comment is Free. 20 April, 2009. Accessed 13/05/10
  27. Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, Revealed: how energy firms spy on environmental activists The Guardian, 14 February 2011.
  28. Chris Rumfitt, Edelman website, undated, acc 10 September 2013
  29. Association of Professional Political Consultants: Register Entry, 1 Mar 2012 - 31st May 2012 accessed August 2012.
  30. Association of Professional Political Consultants, Register Entry, 1 Dec 2011 - 29 Feb 2012
  31. Association of Professional Political Consultants Register Entry for 1 March 2012 to 31 May 2012, accessed August 2012, APPC Register 1 Dec 2011 - 29 Feb 2012, accessed June 2012
  32. Association of Professional Political Consultants Register Entry for 1 March 2012 to 31 May 2012, accessed August 2012.
  33. Association of Professional Political Consultants: Register of members and clients Dec 04-May 05 (pdf file) (no longer online) and Register of members and clients June-Nov 05 (pdf file)(no longer online).
  34. Association of Professional Political Consultants Register Entry for 1 March 2012 to 31 May 2012, accessed August 2012.
  35. E.ON Energy Experience, undated, accessed July 2012.
  36. Eon website, undated, accessed August 2012.
  37. Eon website: Energy World: Notes on a Nuclear Future, undated, accessed August 2012.
  38. E.ON UK website, 'Board' accessed July 2012.
  39. Ruth Greenwood], Linkedin, acc 23 August 2013
  40. House of Commons - Register of All-Party Groups, accessed July 2010