Why such a rush? More on Hinkley Point C…

People are always in such a rush. US Presidents are always in such a rush to pardon whoever they can get their hands on during the last day of their office. We call this PardonGate nowadays, and I guess they do it to either potentially benefit from those people in the future or simply for some last-minute drop of altruism towards their own kind.

Then there are people in general who are always in such a rush, and they tend to be shoppers on discount days like Black Friday in the US. There is dramatic video evidence showing what consequences a discount day like Black Friday has on people’s rational thought and behavior:

 

And then there are leaving European Commissioners such as Joaquin Almunia, who, on the deeply contested point of the planned nuclear power station Hinkley Point C in UK, propose in their last days of office to

“propose to the college of commissioners to take a positive decision and in principle the decision should be taken during this mandate of the commission in October”.

A decision like that is not only incredible because of the extent of the subsidies that the UK government guarantees a foreign company, EDF from France, for the next 35 year. The UK government has agreed to pay EDF £92.50 per MWh for the electricity output from Hinkley Point C – roughly twice the current wholesale price of power, for the next 35 years(!) in addition to a public support to finance the project of (at minimum) £17.6bn.

No, even more incredible is this decision because it is yet another decision which is taken by a leaving politician on his last days in office. Now let us face the issue at hand. Why such a rush?

It is well-known that the new, upcoming commissioner is not as supportive as Joaquin Almunia towards nuclear energy. Thus, a politician, in his last days of office, will take a decision that will potentially affect all British citizens for the next 35 years, unless there is obviously an accident, in which case the whole world will be affected for a long time. And, furthermore, the new commissioner who will come on stage in a couple of weeks is likely to block Hinkley Point C.

So, why such a rush?

Why should anyone be allowed to rush and push through a decision of this severity, knowing that it is not going to be supported anymore only a couple of weeks after it has been taken? How can someone feel this is the right decision to take then? And, given the astonishing subsidies that the UK government is going to pay out for Hinkley Point C, how flexible and bendible must the European competition law be in order to get such an uncompetitive decision pushed through? Do we really need a European competition law if such subsidies are allowed by it? And has the European Commission for Competition actually made a full study of the effect of this subsidy on the Green Growth transition of the European Union and on alternative sources of energy like wind and solar? Also, why do we see diminishing subsidies for wind and solar energy while we at the same time allow never-seen subsidies for nuclear energy?  I would love to see answers to these questions at some point, don’t you?

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