Tag Archives: EDF

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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How Will EDF Handle Nuclear Waste in Maryland?

It’s difficult to get enthusiastic over nuclear energy as a low-carbon source of electricity when stories like this keep appearing.

PARIS (Reuters) – Waste from French power stations was being deposited in the open air in Russia, French newspaper Liberation said on Monday.

The paper said 13 percent of French radioactive waste produced by power group EDF could be found in the open air in a town in Siberia to which access is forbidden. The paper said it based its information on an investigation due to be broadcast on TV channel Arte on Tuesday.

EDF’s PR professionals immediately got to work confusing the issue by claiming that it’s not waste but rather spent fuel sent for “recycling.”

“This product is polluting and it contains very little uranium 235 [an isotope necessary for nuclear energy],” Vladimir Tchouprov, head of Greenpeace Russia’s energy campaign, told Libération. “It’s a real pain to use. For us, it is final waste.”

Because EDF is owned by the French state, they also have the other branches of government running interference for them:

Speaking on French radio this morning, junior minister for ecology Chantal Jouanno said an inquiry was necessary in order to “confirm or reject” the allegations.

France gets most of its electricity from nuclear power.  The French government is unlikely to uncover anything in its investigation that would threaten the continued smooth operation of this industry.

Many people in Maryland will soon be living in close proximity to a nuclear reactor owned and operated by the French government.

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Will EDF Do In Maryland What It Just Did Back Home in France?

Electricite de France (EDF) is France’s biggest utility. EDF is also the biggest stockholder in the Constellation Energy Group (CEG) that owns BGE, Maryland’s largest utility.   (A Maryland judge recently rejected CEG’s challenge to the Maryland Public Service Commission’s authority to investigate EDF’s investment in CEG.)

Naturally, Marylanders want to know: Will government-owned EDF be a good corporate citizen in our state? Well might we wonder.

According to an article in the New York Times, EDF has flexed its muscle to win a French regulatory decision that will strangle an innovative energy efficiency program for homeowners.

Voltalis’s Bluepod boxes, free to consumers, plug into the home electrical panel and communicate back to the company’s computers by Internet. When, for example, summerdemand on the electrical grid nears a peak, the system would automatically turn off air-conditioners for hundreds or thousands of consumers willing to give up the coolers for a short time to avoid the need for additional electrical production to come on line.

The company says its “distributive load shedding” technology can save users as much as 10 percent on their electricity bills and save power producers billions in investments in new plants used only to meet peak demand. Voltalis’s business model assumes the grid operator pays Voltalis for help in maintaining supply and demand equilibrium.

But the regulatory commission ruled that Voltalis should pay the power company because “its service would not be possible without the producer maintaining production.”

Can we expect more of this from EDF-controlled BGE?

Challenges, a French business magazine, suggested that the country’s electricity producers, including Électricité de France, which is 85 percent owned by the government, wielded too much influence over regulators.

The decision has provoked a firestorm in France where it has been denounced as a “tax on efficiency.”

Maryland’s Public Service Commission should request a clarification of this matter from BGE.  Maryland expects substantial benefits from BGE’s demand-side management programs.  Will EDF undermine BGE’s efforts?

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