Sunday 30 May 2010

Nuclear power - thanks but no thanks

Interesting that Chris Huhne makes it clear that he is not ideological on nuclear power. I have always been not ideological on nuclear power. I think the balance of effort needs to be much further toward the renewable end of the spectrum than it has been. And I also think we need to do the unthinkable =- actually change our lifestyles rather than continue to produce more and more power to feed it. But politicians aren't allowed to say that kind of thing.

I feel more comfortable with the idea of nuclear power stations being built with no subsidy. But I can't get my head around how it might work. Let's take an example.

My company, (greenpower inc, or some such name) decides to build a power station. Sets up a new company to do the job (ourfuture inc, or something like that), floats it on the stockmarket with lots of shares, gets in loads of cash, borrows from the banks at silly rates because the government is telling banks to up their lending.

I open my power station with plaudits from the Prime Minister of the day whoever that is, but it will be male, white and not quite middle aged, with good hair and teeth.

I make lots of power and even more money. (I donate some to various political parties.)

I become a Lord, (Lord Green of Much Unwitting or something like that).

I make lots more power and lots more money. ourfuture inc shares do well. I reschedule the debt, share prices rise even further and I am hailed as a business genius. I am probably brought in to head a government task force on waste or something like that.

As the power station nears the end of its useful life, rumours emerge about the financial health of ourfuture inc. Shareholders take their profits and the price dips.

My pension fund is doing nicely.

When the time comes, I pull the plug on the power station and send the staff off to the next one I'm building (under a different company).

On the day I send in the new set of decommissioning staff, I discover, to my shock and horror, that there is no money left in ourfuture inc. I regretfully and with much protestation of innocence, have the company put into administration. I am punctilious in informing the government of what needs to be done to make the plant safe, and hand over all the blue prints.

I give up my lordship, convert my tax status to non-dom, and swan off to some Caribbean island, leaving the government to find upwards of £30 billion for the decommissioning and making safe.

What else would any sensible business person do?

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