When Deregulating, Don't Forget Nukes
As electricity-supply deregulation proceeds, we should address the recovery of legitimate investments made by utilities under the current regulated monopoly system ("Electricity: The power shift ahead," Industries, Dec. 2). These investments--which include nuclear plants--were made on the basis of need, with the approval of state utility commissions. This covenant between the economic regulators and the regulated utilities should be honored in the move to a more deregulated system.
Furthermore, many of today's nuclear power plants have production costs lower than those of oil- and gas-fired plants and about equal to those of plants burning coal. In the coming deregulated era, the production costs for plants already built will largely determine from whom electric power will be purchased.
With the continuing downward trend in the cost of nuclear-generated electricity, and the apparent rise in the price of natural gas, we will continue to need a number of the nuclear plants.
Forrest J. Remick
Nuclear Regulatory Commission State College, Pa.