CONSUMERS have been dealt a 'bad hand' by the Government over the near £20 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, facing costs running to many times the original estimate, it has been warned.

A committee of MPs voiced concerns that consumers are 'locked into' an expensive deal lasting 35 years, questioning why the Government did not revisit the terms between the original go ahead in 2013 and now.

The Public Accounts Committee said no-one was protecting the interests of energy consumers over the deal to agree a so-called strike price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity generated by the power station, which will be operated by French energy giant EDF.

EDF says taxpayers will not pay a penny for the station before it is complete, while the Government said the 'competitive deal' for the project had created thousands of jobs.

However, the rpoert said the average annual household electricity bill will increase by an estimated £10 to £15 to support the new power station up to 2030, which could disproportionately impact on the poorest households.

"Over the life of the contract, consumers are left footing the bill and the poorest consumers will be hit hardest," the report said.

"Yet in all the negotiations no part of government was really championing the consumer interest."

The value for money case for supporting Hinkley weakened after the Government agreed provisional terms in 2013, with the Business Department forecasting that consumers will now pay £30 billion in top-up payments over the contract's 35 years, five times more than the £6 billion expected four years ago, said the report.

READ MORE: Hinkley C news and updates

Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, said: "Bill-payers have been dealt a bad hand by the Government in its approach to this project.

"Its blinkered determination to agree the Hinkley deal, regardless of changing circumstances, means that for years to come energy consumers will face costs running to many times the original estimate.

"The Government made some grave strategic errors here and must now explain what it will do to ensure these are not repeated.

"But more than that, it must deliver the supposed wider benefits of this project - benefits Government has talked up progressively as the case for Hinkley Point C has weakened, but which it has no plan to secure."

The MPs said there was uncertainty over whether the project will be completed on time, warning that if there is a delay, energy security would be put at risk.

"The other projects using the same reactor technology as Hinkley Point C - in France, Finland and China - have seen significant cost and schedule overruns.

"Brexit could also have implications for the project due to withdrawal from Euratom, the pan-European atomic energy regulator, and the risk of people with nuclear engineering and science skills moving abroad," said the report.

EDF Energy said in a statement: "The cost of Hinkley Point C for customers has not changed and they will pay nothing for its reliable, low carbon electricity until the station is completed.

"EDF and its co-investor CGN take the risk of increased costs during construction.

"The agreed price is lower than 80 per cent of other low carbon capacity contracted so far and the project has restarted UK nuclear construction after a quarter century."

Somerset County Gazette: An artist's impression of the Hinkley C site

A Business Department spokesman said: "The Government negotiated a competitive deal for the construction of the first new nuclear power station in a generation as part of our energy mix, which ensures consumers won't pay a penny for any construction overruns and until the station generates electricity in 2025.

"There are already 2,400 people employed on site in Somerset and the project will create over 26,000 jobs and apprenticeships in the UK nuclear supply chain."