Buffett Bolsters Nuclear Portfolio Edging Out France

The Oracle of Omaha has agreed in principle of pay $4.7 for Constellation Energy, whose five reactors produce three fifths of the electricity it generates in the United States. On the eve of the agreement, Electricité de France had been hoping to take a stake in Constellation and use it as a bridgehead into a revived U.S. nuclear energy market. Still hanging fire are EDF's efforts to purchase British Energy, which owns and operates the UK's nuclear reactor fleet.

EDF already is a significant exporter of nuclear electricity to the United Kingdom, but the British are having some trouble digesting the prospect of their nuclear reactor complement--which the government wants to sharply expand to produce carbon-free energy--being owned by France. But what do they have to complain about really? It's a logical result of introducing competition in electricity, a global movement that they largely inspired.

I live in Brooklyn, New York, and the natural gas that heats my home is delivered by Britain's National Grid--that's right, the company that was set up to own and operate the country's electric power system, when the UK restructured the system and separated generation from transmission.

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