IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Deregulation, Consolidation, and Efficiency: Evidence from US Nuclear Power


  • Lucas W. Davis
  • Catherine Wolfram


Beginning in the late 1990s, electricity markets in many US states were deregulated, and almost half of the nation's 103 nuclear power reactors were sold to independent power producers. Deregulation has been accompanied by substantial market consolidation, and today the three largest companies control one-third of US nuclear capacity. We find that deregulation and consolidation are associated with a 10 percent increase in operating performance, achieved primarily by reducing the duration of reactor outages. At average wholesale prices, this increased operating performance is worth $2.5 billion annually and implies an annual decrease of 35 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. (JEL L11, L51, L94, L98, Q42, Q48)

Suggested Citation

  • 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:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:194-225 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.4.194

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James B. Bushnell & Erin T. Mansur & Celeste Saravia, 2008. "Vertical Arrangements, Market Structure, and Competition: An Analysis of Restructured US Electricity Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 237-266, March.
    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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Seifert & Astrid Cullmann & Christian von Hirschhausen, 2014. "Technical Efficiency and CO2 Reduction Potentials: An Analysis of the German Electricity Generating Sector," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1426, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Severin Borenstein, 2012. "The Private and Public Economics of Renewable Electricity Generation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 67-92, Winter.
    3. Desgranges, Gabriel & Gauthier, Stéphane, 2016. "Rationalizability and efficiency in an asymmetric Cournot oligopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 163-176.
    4. Mary Jialin Li, 2016. "Cogeneration Technology Adoption in the U.S," Working Papers 16-30, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    5. Chan, H. Ron & Fell, Harrison & Lange, Ian & Li, Shanjun, 2017. "Efficiency and environmental impacts of electricity restructuring on coal-fired power plants," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 1-18.
    6. Sven-Olof Fridolfsson and Thomas P. Tangeras, 2015. "Nuclear Capacity Auctions," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    7. Stefan Seifert, 2015. "Measuring Productivity When Technologies Are Heterogeneous: A Semi-Parametric Approach for Electricity Generation," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1526, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Kury, Theodore J., 2015. "The impact of coordination on wholesale market participation: The case of the U.S. electricity industry," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 38-44.
    9. repec:eee:rujoec:v:1:y:2015:i:1:p:55-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:aen:journl:ej38-3-lei is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Polemis, Michael L., 2016. "New evidence on the impact of structural reforms on electricity sector performance," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 420-431.
    12. Linares, Pedro & Conchado, Adela, 2013. "The economics of new nuclear power plants in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages 119-125.
    13. Oliver, Matthew E., 2015. "Economies of scale and scope in expansion of the U.S. natural gas pipeline network," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 265-276.
    14. Seifert, Stefan & Cullmann, Astrid & von Hirschhausen, Christian, 2016. "Technical efficiency and CO2 reduction potentials — An analysis of the German electricity and heat generating sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 9-19.
    15. Hueth, Brent & Jang, Heesun, 2016. "Ownership, Pricing, and Productivity: Evidence from Electric Distribution Cooperatives," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 239254, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    16. Michel Berthélemy & Petyo Bonev & Damien Dussaux & Magnus Söderberg, 2017. "Methods for strengthening a weak instrument in the case of a persistent treatment," GRI Working Papers 265, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    17. Severin Borenstein & James Bushnell, 2015. "The US Electricity Industry After 20 Years of Restructuring," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 437-463, August.
    18. Lucas W. Davis, 2012. "Prospects for Nuclear Power," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 49-66, Winter.
    19. repec:eee:eneeco:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:450-465 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • L98 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Government Policy
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Deregulation, Consolidation, and Efficiency: Evidence from US Nuclear Power (AEJ:AE 2012) in ReplicationWiki


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:194-225. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.