By Michael Mariotte

Imagine it’s October 2017. A young conservative, let’s say Marco Rubio (because the idea of the other young conservative in the race, Ted Cruz, is just too odious), has been elected President. He and his new energy secretary and new treasurer decide what the U.S. needs more than anything is some shiny new nuclear power reactors. Big ones.

But no one in the U.S. wants to build them. They’re just too expensive. The ones we have under construction at Vogtle and Summer are over-budget and behind schedule, same with the ones being built in Europe. And renewables are coming on strong, even stronger and cheaper than they were back in 2015, especially since Congress extended the production tax credits for wind and solar before Obama left office.

So President Rubio (who is, in fact, a strong supporter of nuclear power, as are the rest of the candidates in the GOP primaries) and his team decide on a multi-pronged strategy to get these things built. First, since no one in the U.S. wants to build them, they’ll reach out to foreign companies, like Electricite de France (EDF) to get it done. While EDF starts arranging the financing, the Rubio administration slashes all those renewable subsidies down to essentially nothing. After all, they tell Americans, renewables are now mature technologies that don’t need or deserve government support. Government support distorts the marketplace, everyone knows that. Meanwhile, Rubio promises a multi-billion dollar loan guarantee for the new reactors.

When, inevitably, EDF comes back and says they’d love to build these reactors, but those other utilities have a point–they’re pretty risky financially–Rubio’s administration steps in again and says don’t worry, since you’re willing to build these reactors when no one else will, we’ll guarantee that you’ll get twice the going rate for the electricity generated by them.

Great, says EDF, we’ll do it! Except, we don’t have enough money to put up for construction, even with your loan guarantee we need a partner. You need to help us find one.

So Rubio, et al, put on their thinking caps and quickly realize only another government is a large enough entity to become a partner, no one else has enough money either. And the only country with a lot of cash right now, and that might be interested, is China. So they encourage EDF to make a deal with China, and they help EDF finalize the deal, which ends up not only making China a partner in this project, but gives China the right to build a bunch more shiny new reactors–but this time using Chinese instead of French technology–in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, opposition is building to the deal with every new step. First were, of course, the clean energy and environmental advocates. Then came what’s left of the renewable energy industry, which started closing down when all the subsidies were withdrawn. Then came most of the nation’s economists and global financial analysts, who said the idea just makes no economic sense at all. Much of Congress started …read more

Read more here::