Re: It all started with...
"Okay, I stand corrected on that one (ill informed... sadly)"
OK, I'll stand down the dogs, and think about apologising for my tone...
Certainly privatisation put the kybosh on plans for new nuclear, but you need to remember that the costs of Sizewell B were around £80/MWh even at 2000 prices compared to wholesale prices at the time around £55 (IIRC), and that from planning announcement in 1969 it took almost thirty years before it was operational, largely due to planning, but also design choices. Even the already built nuclear assets of British Energy became uneconomic, leading to the company going bust, renationalised and eventually sold to EdF.
With reduced regulation the newly privatised companies sensibly undertook a "dash for gas" to build CCGT stations that cost far less to build and operate (excepting fuel), had less risk, lower complexity, no long term liabilities, and were more easily sited near to demand, reducing transmission losses (compared to middle of nowhere locations like Wylfa, which only justified its location because of the "over the hedge" location of a now closed aluminium plant).
Centralised planning under CEGB left us with expensive and inflexible coal and nuclear assets, built in the wrong locations for reasons that had little to do with energy demand. In theory there's no reason why the state couldn't deliver low cost efficiency, but the practical evidence is that it never does, usually due to the sort of political meddling that they've now taken to with privately owned power companies, all in the name of "climate change". You might hope that simply reforming the market as DECC's current Energy Market Reform (EMR) is intended to do will fix these sorts of problems. But if I might quote from a Cambridge University report by their Energy Policy Research Group:
"EMR displays a huge amount of economic illiteracy:
– on the theory of finance
– on the theory of optimal taxation
– on the nature of supply and demand in markets
– on economic instruments for reducing externalities…
• EMR also suffers from a host of practical and implementation
problems and has little empirical efficacy basis.
• EMR, if it is ever seriously implemented in the UK, will fail to
deliver at reasonable cost.
• The contrast between the UK government’s unwillingness
to accept economic analysis vs. its willingness to accept
climate change science is striking."
So to an extent, it doesn't really matter who owns the assets: You get real and tangible benefits from a competitive market, but sooner of later the dead flesh hand of government decides that it should have a share of the benefits to spend on its self-selected good causes. That then means that policy has and will continue to drive wrong and costly outcomes drives through selective interventions that compromise the ability of industry to meet demand efficiently.