1. Rod. Thank you for doing this. I am in Vermont, and I should have done something about this. Dr. Cooper’s thesis was about socialism in Egypt. It was completely non-numeric. And here is something odd. When I was looking into Mark Cooper in August (what IS this man’s Ph.D.) in…I followed links to Google Books of his book, the link below, and the table of contents and several pages were visible in Google Books. They aren’t visible anymore.
    I find their absence interesting.

  2. Thank you Rod for posting this. It was quite fascinating. It’ a throw back to the 1950 when the “cold war liberals” sought to advance a ‘progressive’ social agenda at home and an anti-socialist/anti-communist one abroad…using ‘red baiting’ as a means to attack anyone to their left. Thus Dr. Cooper resorts to a very contemporary form of red-baiting by red-baiting France. He is of course *correct* about France as their success was the direct result not only “Of The State” but as a direct consequence of French *nationalized* energy industry as agreed upon by the forces of the French Resistance during the German Occupation that certain sectors of French society in specific industries would be economically disenfranchised for supporting the Fascists. When some sectors around De Gaulle went back on their word, massive strikes, lead by the Communist and Socialist parties ensued and the gov’t went ahead and nationalized energy, rail, mines and health care.
    The fact is that, regardless of where one comes down on the history and politics, the EDF allowed for *planning* which, when contrasted to the “our-customers-want-individual-designed-nuclear-plants” form of “Let The Market Decide”….the “Socialist” side came in way better, cheaper and more reliable. Sounds a-historical, yes? But quite true.
    This is why ideologically driven “Market Nukes” have never worked in the U.S. and won’t on the big scale of large 1000MW plants. There is a REAL possibility that the SMRs can fill an entrepreneurial gap that has failed at the larger plant level for a variety of reasons.
    Back to Dr. Cooper: clearly he’s also wrong. French exports of power, especially south to Spain and East to Italy *make money* and a lot of it. That the French and EDF do not publish the figures has nothing to do with their being afraid of sunlight on a failed system (Dr. Cooper’s POV) but perhaps just the opposite: it is a huge money maker. But the real reason goes to Reasons of State. The French, ever since the failure of the 4th Republic and the ushering in of the 5th Republic in 1968 under DeGaulle’s referendum, a sort of Bonapartist coup d’ tat, have been secret about *everything*. Their national budget is given in general, not specific terms. No sunlight is allowed in on any aspect of the French bureaucratic state’s doings. Should they? Sure, sunlight kills germs, biological or bureaucratic.
    We must also be honest here. France has had ‘socialist’ victories, more victories of the organized highly unionized and militant working class traditions. Something I totally identify with. But it is not ‘Socialist’. It is capitalist with strong socialist interventions into the economy. There is also a “social contract” around things like pensions (thus the general strike this week to preserve what the French workers have won), health care, etc. But it is not really any more socialist than France or Italy or Switzerland.
    In discussions with French FO-CGT and CGT (the main unions in the energy sector at EDF) militants a year ago, many of the problems with the EPR stem from moving *away* from the “Socialist model” that built their system. The use of private subcontractors, many allowed ‘in’ based on political connections or on… “low bidding” has caused all sorts of problems. When the French nuclear system was built by EDF, it does so as a vertically integrated public enterprise that built the whole thing from top to bottom and even included the building/construction ‘firms’ as simply a department in EDF. Not anymore and this has resulted in the *opposite* development of various aspects of the new build in France that the unions are fighting to bring back under EDF (and union) control…as was done in the 1970s.
    Dr. Cooper simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
    David Walters

  3. Rod,
    Terriffic work, on this and the journalist whose mind you helped change, and all you do. Meredith and I are here and active in Vermont. I’ve been to the Law School many times and had an article published in their Journal of Environmantal Law in 2006.
    Anti’s pointing to the French problems witn their two EPR’s under construction is typical tactics. The problems are construction management, simliar to Boston’s Big Dig. They of course neglect the succesful consrtuction- on shcedule in China.

    1. Of course China doesn’t have to worry about anti-nuclear protesters as they can simply machinegun them. Do you want this in the West?

      1. @George – that is a silly question. Of course we do not want that in the west. What we need is to put our marketing talents to work to help spread the word that nuclear energy is clean, reliable, and affordable. We have to counter the misinformation that has been spread unchallenged in public for so many years.

  4. The big deception of these antinuclear people is that they claim to have a powerful alternative called “renewables”, when they have none at all. He calls them “low cost”, and cites alleged “burdens” on taxpayers and ratepayers in France due to nuclear electricity. First of all, renewables – except for *centralized* hydroelectric dams, which green groups dislike and want to replace with decentralized wind&solar – are not an on-demand power source, and thus cannot be compared. And then he perhaps forgot about the feed-in-tariff schemes that create a stealth tax by cleverly redistributing money without direct government involvement. In countries that have those feed-in-tariffs (Spain, Denmark etc.) ratepayers are paying up to 4 times as much for power as in France, and can only dream about electric heating or electric cars.

    1. Interesting. Germany, Italy, Denmark, and the Netherlands have the highest electrical rates, significant outliers.
      Now, what else do Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Denmark have?
      Germany: a waffling nuclear phase-out. (Perhaps replaced with a nuclear “sin tax”.)
      Italy: a completed nuclear phase-out.
      The Netherlands: a completed nuclear phase-out.
      Denmark: No nuclear plants, ever. The world capital of wind.
      Compare with Belgium, Finland, Sweden, and, of course, France. Never explained is how these supposed subsidies get to the nuclear plants. Perhaps they’re invisible. Perhaps they’re virtual.

    2. Would be great to have the same overview for residential rates. Denmark’s population pays somewhere between 0.35E and 0.40E for a kWh. Read somewhere they subsidize their industrial electricity rates, which ironically is for wind turbine manufacturing.

  5. Practically all economies are a mixture of capitalism and socialism. The most successful economies are those who can appropriately utilize capitalism and socialism most efficiently.
    I think a strong case could be made for a TVA style Federal Nuplex Corporation designed to build nuclear power plants in States that actually want them! The Federal government would finance the building of nuclear power plants and then sell the electricity to local and regional utilities creating jobs, carbon neutral energy, and revenue for building more clean nuclear power plants in other states. Private nuclear power plant companies would benefit from this not for profit Federal energy program by finally getting to build nuclear power plants in America again. And once a nuclear power facility is completed and is operational, it immediately becomes a valuable asset that could also be sold to private industry.

    1. It’s worth noting, that the EU energy companies outside France are so terrified of the French subsidizing their competition that they bullied the French government into semi-privatizing EDF. Even so, the company British Energy, which exists as one of the consequences of Thatcher’s privatization of the assets of the Central Electricity Generating Board, is now part of EDF. — A sure sign that, as “Punch” used to say, “The sun has set upon the British Empire”.
      We stand a good chance of losing economically to India, China, and maybe even Russia, if we don’t lose our fear of “socialism”.

  6. One interesting take home from the Cooper hit-job is that Bechtel was uniquely able to control costs in the plants that it built, even in the regulatory train-wreck that occurred in the early 1980s, something that should be noted.

  7. Salut, Rod!
    if the strongest complaint Cooper can find against the french is to label their success with a political ideology, that’s a pretty weak complaint. The french do expect their government to do things for them and to take care of them, and yes, that includes expecting that they will have affordable electricity whenever they want it.
    Does that mean the government calls all the shots here? Hardly, the people also soundly object to government ‘interference’ in their lives, and will protest loudly and publicly at the drop of a hat. It’s an interesting paradox.
    I remember the UK miners’ strike in the 1070’s which caused scheduled blackouts, often right in the middle of an episode of Star Trek. I’m still traumatised by that! Now I live in a country that had the foresight, technical ability, and willingness to provide stable, clean, cheap electricity. I am so grateful to France for that.
    If only more countries would follow France’s world-leading example.

  8. Thanks for the eye opening commentary that I support. I am a Vermonter that has had an ongoing debate with the Lawyers and Politicians about their demands for closing Vermont Yankee without a viable alternative energy source to replace it. I have no problem with them closing the facility for a greener safer alternative—but they will not take their heads out of the darkness that their ignorance of science and technology creates. Maybe some of the politicians are thinking that they can ride the fear factor rather than reason to get votes.

  9. Rod, for some reason my original comment seemed to disappear, but I’ll re-post as best I can remember. If I violated some sort of comment guideline, please let me know.
    The current EPR results are not terribly surprising considering the normal challenges of first of a kind construction and the complexity of the very large reactor plant design.
    Everyone in the nuclear industry and the general public needs to understand that yes, there are some legitimate excuses why the current Generation III EPR results are way behind schedule, but they are not to be considered by any means normal or acceptable.
    The first Generation III ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor), KK-6 in Japan, was built on-time and on-schedule and began operation in 1996 (more than fifteen years ago!) They’ve been built ever since (4 operational, 4 under construction in Taiwan and Japan) with no serious non-political schedule delays caused.
    I conclude that based on this, first of a kind construction of a large reactor design should be expected to have no serious schedule delays and no serious cost overruns. I respectfully believe that doing otherwise shouldn’t reflect on the industry or set a precedent for future plants.

  10. What they are doing is not socialism but that old 17th century French tradition of Dirigismes see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirigisme.
    Dirigismes has been the basis of Industrialism since the very beginning and not a single country has ever developed without it. The United States founded on dirigism as one can plainly see that as Hamilton cites Jean Baptiste Colbert in his report on Manufactures.
    The National Road, the Erie Canal, and the Transcontinental Railroad are examples of Dirigismes.
    If what was done under the conservative nationalist DeGualle was Socialism then George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Abraham Lincoln were socialists and God knows we need leadership like those great “socialists” consider the mess we are currently facing.
    We should start calling these libertarians “reactionary anarchists” or “feudalist” or maybe “monarchists” if they keep up calling everything they don’t like “socialism.” After all, nothing is more privatized than Monarchy.

  11. Cooper: “The excess capacity in France, which was an accident; the commitment to French nuclear construction was never adjusted as demand declined so the French went into an export mode. In point of fact the French taxpayer has long been bearing the burden of subsidizing a state run enterprise.”
    This man is either a charlatan or a fool. How on earth could he imagine that excess capacity was an accident? Has the man never heard of peak demand? If you build enough capacity to meet peaks, you will of course end up with excess capacity almost constantly. Does he imagine that the French didn’t understand that? Unlike fossil fuel-fired plants, though, where you throttle them back to save fuel, the nuclear plants can happily (and cheaply) churn out power 24/7, so it’s even economical for them to sell cut-rate electricity at night to Switzerland where the Swiss

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