EDF Ain’t Joan of Arc, Maryland

Recently, EDF has been painted as a Joan of Arc, a savior of Maryland, dispensing only goodness, dollars and jobs in The Old Line State.

Post-Halloween, the costumes come off.  As with all state-owned companies in France, EDF executives have two priorities: lining their own pockets and keeping their political masters happy.  (Those two things are intimately connected.)

Strange, isn’t, that French politicians don’t seem to care about creating jobs or stabilizing electricity rates in Maryland?

EDF has also faced pressure over its foreign expansion at home given the need to invest heavily in improving the capacity of its French reactors…

But, but, … won’t nuclear power bring energy security?  Not this year, nor last:

…[France] prepares to import costly energy for the second winter in a row.

Surely the mighty private sector is thrilled about nuclear’s future?

Government officials have also in recent weeks expressed doubts about the need for EDF to invest in the US, where scepticism is growing over the prospects of a nuclear revival given liquidity constraints of US utilities.

Attendez! Here’s the best bit:

Yesterday, roughly a third of EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors were reported out of service for maintenance or other reasons, according to an inquiry by the AFP news service.

Nuclear plants are wonderful — they run 24 hours a day — until they don’t.  But one third?  Needless to say, EDF refused to comment.  (Just a Gallic shrug.)

So what’s the score on EDF?  Let’s see.  Dumping nuclear waste in Siberia.  Strangling competition from energy efficiency.  Spying on anti-nuclear activists.

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved Constellation’s financial deal with EDF contingent on appropriate conditions to protect ratepayers’ investment in BGE, Maryland’s largest utility.  Wall Street gave a surprise “thumbs up” to the PSC’s logic:

Meanwhile on Monday, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Constellation’s credit rating to one notch above junk status. S&P lowered Constellation from “BBB” to “BBB-” with a stable outlook after reviewing the company as a stand-alone business without BGE.

The ratings service, however, upgraded BGE’s credit rating to “BBB+” from “BBB” because the conditions set by the regulators are supportive of the utility. It’s unusual for S&P to rate a subsidiary higher than the parent, the rating firm said.

Bob Ehrlich can’t figure out why anyone would be skeptical of EDF and Constellation.


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