EON’s Old Nuclear Money Spinners Are Now Just a Big Hassle

An EON SE nuclear plant that made billions for the German utility is now losing money.

Essen-based EON is battling repeated delays to production at its Brokdorf reactor that has cost the company more than 100 million euros ($114 million) since halting in February, the utility said by email. The unit is now scheduled to start July 19.

Brokdorf, a 1.4-gigawatt reactor capable of powering 2.8 million homes, is offline after regulators raised concerns about oxide layers on fuel rods discovered when the unit stopped for maintenance. EON has submitted its examination results to the regulator and is awaiting approval to restart.

EON, which last year separated its conventional power plant business into a new company called Uniper SE, still operates three atomic plants including the 31-year-old Brokdorf facility. EON had to keep the nuclear business after the government made plant operators permanently liable for decommissioning costs under the nation’s plan to exit atomic power.

“For the market, it will be an issue if Brokdorf still wasn’t available in the fall,” said Lueder Schumacher, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in London.  

EON transferred on Monday its share of 24 billion euros that the government demanded from utilities into a fund that will pay for costs related to the final storage of radioactive waste.

Brokdorf’s outage contributed to a 20 percent drop in EON’s first quarter adjusted net income to 525 million euros, the utility said in May. 

“The financial damage to our company due to the production loss is now at a three-digit million amount,” Almut Zyweck, a spokeswoman for EON’s nuclear unit, said by email on Monday.

For a Q&A on Germany’s nuclear exit, click here

The reactor’s restart has been delayed at least 17 times since February’s halt. The findings on the fuel rods have to be taken seriously and Brokdorf may not restart before the cause has been found, the regulator said at the time.

EON has risen 23 percent this year, the fourth-best performer in Germany’s benchmark DAX index for the period, after slumping by almost half in the previous two years. The stock dropped 0.4 percent in Frankfurt on Tuesday.

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