The fate of American industrial icon Westinghouse is now in the hands of regulators, now that the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court has approved its reorganization plan. Last year, Westinghouse, the leading U.S. nuclear power technology firm, was forced into bankruptcy by massive cost overruns in building the newest generation nuclear electricity plants in South Carolina and Georgia. Since 2006, the firm had been owned by Toshiba, which lacked the financial resources and the will to rescue it, especially since Japan itself is phasing out commercial nuclear power. Now the only obstacle in the way of the breakup of the firm and sale of its nuclear business is review by U.S. regulatory authorities. In a world of rapidly increasing nuclear proliferation and growing strategic challenges from China and Russia, U.S. authorities should take a closer look at the fate of Westinghouse. Without such scrutiny, the company will likely be acquired by Brookfield Asset Management, a highly successful Canadian property management and development firm with scant experience in industry, let alone nuclear power. What’s more, Brookfield has no obligation to address geopolitical problems such as nuclear proliferation. With Japan and Korea lowering their nuclear ambitions, France’s Areva needing yet another massive government bailout, and Brookfield and Westinghouse stating their intention to exit the nuclear power plant construction business, the field is open to Russian and Chinese firms. New plans for scores of nuclear-generation plants in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China, and India raise the prospect of dominance by Russian and Chinese actors. Russia already accounts for 60 percent of new global reactor sales, with a total value approaching $300 billion. China, which is becoming dominant in its own market and expanding its reach globally, is building a plant in the United Kingdom.
Real Clear Energy 4th April 2018 read more »