This is an edited, excerpted and augmented edition of a United States Congressional Research Service publication, Report Order Code RL34746, dated November 13, 2008, by Stan Kaplan, Specialist in Energy and Environmental Policy Resources, Science, and Industry Division This book analyzes the factors that determine the cost of electricity from new power plants. These factors, including construction costs, fuel expense, environmental regulations, and financing costs can all be affected by government energy, environmental, and economic policies. Government decisions to influence or not influence these factors can largely determine the kind of power plants that are built in the future.
This book provides projections of the possible cost of power from new fossil, nuclear, and renewable plants built in 2015, illustrating how different assumptions, such as the availability of federal incentives, change the cost rankings of technologies. None of the projections are intended to be a ―most likely‖ case. Future uncertainties preclude firm forecasts. The rankings of the technologies by cost are therefore also an approximation and should not be viewed as definitive estimates of the relative cost-competitiveness of each option. The value of this book is not as a source of point estimates of future power costs, but as a source of insight into the factors that can determine future outcomes, including factors that can be influenced by Congress.
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