by Will Davis
With the publication of the above WASH 1174-74, which was “The Nuclear Industry” for the year 1974 (and which was published in late Fall, 1974) a twelve year era ended. This was the final publication of this important series, which launched in 1962 and thus covered the entire period of the rapid growth of nuclear energy in this country.
The reason for the ending of this valuable series was that the Atomic Energy Commission was abolished by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, and the new Energy Research and Development Administration did not have the focus of promoting nuclear energy or reporting specifically on the industry. The ERDA’s new Office of Industry Relations did publish this last edition knowing, as is told by the foreword, that it would be the last.
The report contains a historically significant and somewhat chilling relation right in the center of the text on Page 1:
“During 1974, two entirely unexpected developments occurred in the complicated economic structure of the power generation field to depress the historic growth pattern of the industry. The first of these was a drop in demand for electric power, generated by pleas for conservation efforts and by consumer reaction to higher electricity bills. The second was related to inflationary pressures, which placed many utilities at a disadvantage in raising new capital. Utilities which saw the impending erosion of projected markets for power, together with those which found themselves in financial straits, began to reduce power plant construction programs and to defer the building of new units. Nuclear units, in particular, were delayed because of their high capital costs, and because of their lengthy construction periods. By the end of September, 1974, electric utilities had deferred construction of 70 previously-ordered power reactors, and had cancelled plans for nine nuclear units previously