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In this statistical analysis, the author analyzes the capital costs of 39 light water reactor power plants and provides a methodology for estimating these costs. Cost data are adjusted to constant dollars and then multivariate regression analyses are performed on three independent variables: time required to obtain a construction permit; construction time; and capital cost. Principal findings are: (1) Capital costs increased about $140 per kWe per year when corrected for the effect of other variables. (2) Plants built in the Northeastern United States cost about $130 per kWe more than those built elsewhere. (3) Cooling towers add about $90 per kWe to plant cost. (4) A strong cost-learning effect reduced costs to about 90 percent for each doubling of the number of plants built. (5) Costs decreased about $0.22 per kWe for each 1 mWe increase in plant size. Both the time required to obtain a construction permit and the construction time probably affect costs less than is popularly believed. Application of the study results to an assessment of the capital costs of new energy technologies is also discussed.

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