The time-bomb is ticking but we are no nearer a viable plan for meeting our future electricity needs.
(1) SSE pulls out of the nuclear game. Well of course they do. And it's a cert that neither E.on nor RWE will be up for it either any more, given the pounding they are getting in Germany and their well-publicised shortages of capital; Centrica have voiced their (very sensible) doubts: which just leaves EDF, and the depleted GdF/Iberdrola JV now that SSE have deserted them. I could just about imagine EDF approving one new UK nuke in the next 2-3 years, if Crapper Huhne's new Capacity Payments scheme (due to be published later this year) attracts them sufficiently.
Now Huhne was hoping for 10 new nukes. 'Perhaps one, maybe' looks a bit thin in that context. There comes a point, and it may not be long now, when the required 'run-rate' of new investment becomes plainly infeasible. Actually, it is already, but not quite obvious enough yet, it seems.
(2) Miliband plans to re-introduce the Pool ! This is a real throwback - can nationalisation or the CEGB be far behind ? (An historian writes: the Pool, 1990-2001 was an intermediate step between the initial break-up of the CEGB's monopoly and the introduction of full bilateral competition in wholesale electricity by, err, Peter Mandelson, who did at least get something right. I may have played a small part in this ...) The Pool was rife with gaming and distorted price signals, and its abolition was followed by a marked fall in prices (and, in consequence the, *ahem*, bankruptcy of British Energy).
Still, no-one understands markets, so perhaps there is some rhetorical mileage for Miliband in this, who knows? Coalition 'energy policy' is so dire that we can hardly complain.
He is of course right that people are angry about energy price rises. Harnessing that for political purposes, whilst simultaneously trying to promote 'decarbonisation', is enough to defeat a medieval schoolman. It requires some fairly heavy-duty doublethink and since the departure of the Blairite masters of mendacity, I don't see anyone equal to the task. Certainly not Huhne.