(Bloomberg) -- The UK is taking steps to ease concerns about the risk of delays to the planned Sizewell C nuclear plant as it seeks to draw private investors to the project.

The plant is critical to the country’s plans to quadruple nuclear-power capacity in the coming decades to bolster energy security and reach its 2050 net-zero emissions goal. To get the project built, it’s trying to attract private investment through a mechanism that shares the risk of construction costs with the public. 

But lawmakers have raised concerns that the model leaves consumers overly exposed to cost overruns during construction. The only other major nuclear plant underway in Britain — Electricite de France SA’s Hinkley Point C project — has been repeatedly delayed and is currently expected to cost as much as £47.9 billion ($60.7 billion). The 3.2-gigawatt Sizewell C reactor uses the same design of that plant and EDF expects it will be delivered at a much lower cost.

In responses to a consultation on the plant’s funding model published this week, the government revised some mechanisms designed to encourage the project to be delivered on time. It’s trying to shield consumers from cost overruns while making the project attractive enough to draw billions in private capital, despite nuclear plants’ track record of arriving years late and over budget. 

Some of the changes appear to “have moved the goalposts” to accommodate industry concerns, said Zoe Stollard​​​​, partner at law firm Browne Jacobson LLP.

“There is significant potential for some of the responses to assist with investor concerns on the effects of cost and time overruns at Sizewell C,” she said by email. 

Among those factors is a measure known as the delay weighted average cost of capital, which is meant to reduce returns if Sizewell is completed late. The government said it plans to alter that mechanism to allow a two-year grace period. After that, the penalty would increase incrementally so that shorter delays aren’t penalized at the same level as longer ones.

The government also said it would review a planned yield cap to ensure it’s set at a level “commensurate with current macro-economic conditions” following feedback that the measure could negatively affect Sizewell’s financing.

The government is conducting due diligence of estimates on Sizewell’s cost and construction time prior to a final investment decision, according to a spokesperson for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. The government anticipates charges for large-scale nuclear projects to be around £1 a month on average of a typical household bill, they said.

The consultation included responses from operating company Sizewell C Ltd. and potential equity investors in the project, as well as regulator Ofgem, government bodies and civil society groups.

(Adds comment from government in the penultimate paragraph)

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