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Economic and Regulatory Factors Affecting the Maintenance of Nucleaer Power Plants


  • James G. Hewlett


This paper examines the factors causing the escalation in the 1980s and' subsequent leveling off of nuclear power plant non-fuel Operating and Maintenance (O&M) costs. Over the period 1974-93, real (inflation-adjusted) non-fuel O&M costs escalated from about $23 to about $97 per kilowatt of installed capacity (kW). However, much of the escalation in costs occurred in the 1980s. Over the period 1975-87, real O&M costs escalated at an annual rate of about 11 percent. Since then, the annual growth rate in real O&M costs fell to about I percent. The research found that the escalation in O&M costs was primarily due to increased regulatory activity by the Nuclear Regulatory, Commission. More important, there is little evidence that the moderation in the growth in O&M costs was regulatory induced, but instead was due to changes in the economic incentives to improve plant performance.

Suggested Citation

  • James G. Hewlett, 1996. "Economic and Regulatory Factors Affecting the Maintenance of Nucleaer Power Plants," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 1-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:1996v17-04-a01

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    Cited by:

    1. Iyer, Gokul & Hultman, Nathan & Fetter, Steve & Kim, Son H., 2014. "Implications of small modular reactors for climate change mitigation," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 144-154.
    2. Yeh, Sonia & Rubin, Edward S., 2007. "A centurial history of technological change and learning curves for pulverized coal-fired utility boilers," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1996-2005.
    3. Yeh, Sonia & Rubin, Edward S., 2012. "A review of uncertainties in technology experience curves," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 762-771.
    4. Koomey, Jonathan & Hultman, Nathan E., 2007. "A reactor-level analysis of busbar costs for US nuclear plants, 1970-2005," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 5630-5642, November.
    5. Sascha Samadi, 2016. "A Review of Factors Influencing the Cost Development of Electricity Generation Technologies," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(11), pages 1-25, November.
    6. Iyer, Gokul C. & Clarke, Leon E. & Edmonds, James A. & Hultman, Nathan E. & McJeon, Haewon C., 2015. "Long-term payoffs of near-term low-carbon deployment policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 493-505.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


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