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Deregulation, Consolidation, and Efficiency: Evidence from U.S. Nuclear Power

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  • Lucas W. Davis
  • Catherine Wolfram

Abstract

For the first four decades of its existence the U.S. nuclear power industry was run by regulated utilities, with most companies owning only one or two reactors. Beginning in the late 1990s electricity markets in many states were deregulated and almost half of the nation’s 103 reactors were sold to independent power producers selling power in competitive wholesale markets. Deregulation has been accompanied by substantial market consolidation and today the three largest companies control more than one-third of all U.S. nuclear capacity. We find that deregulation and consolidation are associated with a 10 percent increase in operating efficiency, achieved primarily by reducing the frequency and duration of reactor outages. At average wholesale prices the value of this increased efficiency is approximately $2.5 billion annually and implies an annual decrease of almost 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17341.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Publication status: published as Lucas W. Davis & Catherine Wolfram, 2012. "Deregulation, Consolidation, and Efficiency: Evidence from US Nuclear Power," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 194-225, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17341

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  1. Bushnell, James & Mansur, Erin T. & Saravia, Celeste, 2008. "Vertical Arrangements, Market Structure and Competition: An Analysis of Restructured U.S. Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers 13130, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. Christopher R. Knittel, 2002. "Alternative Regulatory Methods And Firm Efficiency: Stochastic Frontier Evidence From The U.S. Electricity Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 530-540, August.
  3. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
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Cited by:
  1. H. Ron Chan & Harrison Fell & Ian Lange & Shanjun Li, 2013. "Effciency and Environmental Impacts of Electricity Restructuring on Coal-Fired Power Plants," Working Papers 2013-01, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
  2. Linares, Pedro & Conchado, Adela, 2013. "The economics of new nuclear power plants in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S119-S125.
  3. Lucas W. Davis, 2012. "Prospects for Nuclear Power," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 49-66, Winter.
  4. Severin Borenstein, 2011. "The Private and Public Economics of Renewable Electricity Generation," NBER Working Papers 17695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gabriel Desgranges & Stéphane Gauthier, 2014. "Rationalizability and Efficiency in an Asymmetric Cournot Oligopoly," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00975002, HAL.

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