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Coal and nuclear technologies: creating a false dichotomy for American energy policy

  • Benjamin Sovacool

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    The American electric utility industry is entering a moment of transition. Once viewed as a stable and secure consortium of publicly regulated monopolies that produce and distribute electricity, the industry has weathered market restructuring only to face the ever-present risk of natural disasters, price fluctuations, terrorist attacks, and blackouts. This paper uses five criteria—technical feasibility, cost, negative externalities, reliability, and security—to evaluate the broad portfolio of energy technologies available to American electricity policymakers. Upon close inspection, energy efficiency practices, renewable energy systems, and small-scale distributed generation technologies appear to offer many advantages over large and centralized nuclear and fossil fueled generators. Contrary to the mimetic commentary produced by the media, these three approaches would present policymakers a superior alternative for curbing electricity demand, minimizing the risk of fuel interruptions and shortages, helping improve the fragile transmission network, and reducing environmental harm Copyright Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2007

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11077-007-9038-7
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Policy Sciences.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 101-122

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:policy:v:40:y:2007:i:2:p:101-122
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    1. Stephen J. Decanio & William E. Watkins, 1998. "Investment In Energy Efficiency: Do The Characteristics Of Firms Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 95-107, February.
    2. Palmer, Karen & Newell, Richard & Gillingham, Kenneth, 2004. "Retrospective Examination of Demand-side Energy-efficiency Policies," Discussion Papers dp-04-19, Resources For the Future.
    3. Klass, Donald L., 2003. "A critical assessment of renewable energy usage in the USA," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 353-367, March.
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