Electric Utility Decisionmaking and the Nuclear Option.

by Arturo Gandara


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Examines factors in decisions for or against nuclear power plants during the commercialization phase of the light water reactor. From 1965 to 1973, despite worsening financial conditions, utilities invested heavily in nuclear power. Influential factors included (1) higher cost and more complicated supply of fossil fuels, (2) a trend toward larger generating plants and regional pooling of power, allowing utilities to exploit nuclear power's economies of scale, and (3) ecological concerns. Contracts for turnkey nuclear plants were less influential. As the financial crisis deepened through 1975, orders for nuclear plants fell off. Since 1974, influential factors in the nuclear/fossil fuel decision have been the utility's ability to finance nuclear plants and a concern for fuel diversity. The decisionmaking process itself has become more sophisticated. The rise of resource planning departments, in part a response to the technological, construction, and financial problems associated with nuclear power, has made utility management more systematic and rational. 110 pp. Ref.

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