by Will Davis
Last time, we looked at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) findings on the drivers of nuclear plant construction delay and cost overrun up through 1969.  We’ll complete our analysis of the AEC findings on 1969 in this installment and move on to 1970.
While the AEC had some solid observations about concerns inside the industry which were working to drive up plant costs (largely but not wholly due to schedule overruns) there were external factors not unique to nuclear power that were driving up plant costs regardless of schedule adherence.  In its report, “The Nuclear Industry 1969″ the AEC wrote:
“The increase in the estimated capital costs of nuclear plants under construction, and on order, was in turn due to a large extent to the delays and rising costs of construction, although the costs of new plants ordered were also considerably higher due to the large, inflationary trends in the economy.”  (Emphasis is the author’s.)
The inflationary trend driving up the capital cost of plants – no matter the type, nuclear or coal – would continue through the coming new decade.  That aside, the AEC did feel in 1969 as if project cost might well come down some in the future.  According to the AEC, experience in the construction of nuclear plants accumulating in the industry would generally reduce delays; safe operation of the plants then under construction would assure no need to modify future designs, thus keeping cost low; and the backlog of component orders (and deliveries) that had in some cases negatively affected the critical path of nuclear plant builds would be alleviated both by experience of the suppliers and a general broadening of the market’s ability to supply such specialized components.
Perry Nuclear Plant artist’s concept; from brochure in Will Davis’ collection.
1970:  Rebalancing and Regrouping
The next published report,

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