Power to the People or Regulatory Ratcheting? Explaining the Success (or Failure) of Attempts to Site Commercial U.S. Nuclear Power Plants: 1954-1996
Berndt, Eric and Aldrich, Daniel P. Power to the People or Regulatory Ratcheting? Explaining the Success (or Failure) of Attempts to Site Commercial U.S. Nuclear Power Plants: 1954-1996. International Journal of Energy Research, Forthcoming
21 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2014 Last revised: 12 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 11, 2016
Between 1954 and 1996, more than 200 nuclear power projects were publicly announced in the USA. Barely half of these projects were completed and generated power commercially. Existing research has highlighted a number of potential explanations for the varying siting outcomes of these projects, including contentious political protest, socioeconomic, and political conditions within potential host communities, regulatory changes (‘ratcheting’), and cost overruns. However, questions remain about which of these factors, if any, had an impact on these outcomes. This article uses a new data set of 228 host communities where siting was attempted to illuminate the factors that led projects towards either completion or cancellation. Controlling for factors highlighted by past studies, we find that regulatory and reactor-specific factors best predict the outcomes of attempts to site nuclear reactors over this time period. These findings have important implications in the post- Fukushima ‘nuclear renaissance’ era when many still hope to revitalize the nuclear industry in the USA.
Keywords: nuclear power, civil society, regulatory ratcheting, economic conditions
JEL Classification: Q4, R3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation