The British Gas owner abandoned its 20pc stake in the £14bn project at Hinkley Point in February, opting instead to give £500m back to shareholders and invest in gas in North America.
Sir Roger Carr, Centrica chairman, told its AGM on Monday that since it first considered the project the price had “rocketed hugely”, adding: “Nuclear is not a cheap option.”
Sam Laidlaw, chief executive, said: “Not only had the cost increased but also the schedule had lengthened very considerably. So instead of taking four to five years to build, EDF were telling us that it was going to take nine to 10 years to build. That is a long time to be writing out a cheque for this project.”
He added: “EDF’s agenda is different to ours. They are 85pc owned by the French government, they are using French technology and they see nuclear as a core part of their strategy going forward. Our strategy is to have customers at our core and provide the lowest cost low-carbon energy for our customers.”
Centrica later added that he was referring to the timescale for the whole project, not just construction. EDF declined to comment.
Centrica stokes energy fears by revealing EDF nuclear timescale has doubled