Nuclear Science:

U.S. Electricity Needs and DOE's Civilian Reactor Development Program

RCED-90-151: Published: May 29, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 3, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) projected U.S. electricity needs through 1998; (2) whether the Department of Energy's (DOE) Civilian Reactor Development Program could help meet those needs; and (3) the views of utility company and nuclear industry officials on DOE efforts to promote advanced reactor development.

GAO found that: (1) from 1989 to 1998, the summer demand for electricity is projected to increase approximately 2 percent annually, from 522,000 megawatts (MW) in 1989 to 623,000 MW in 1998; (2) from 1989 to 1998, projected available electrical generating capacity is projected to increase 1 percent annually, from approximately 544,000 MW in 1989 to 606,000 MW in 1998, which could result in some regions experiencing electrical shortfalls during projected peak periods; (3) in 1989, utility companies were completing the construction of nuclear generators, adding other types of generators, and planning to use demand management programs; (4) DOE expected to obtain certification for 3 light-water reactors by 1995, and supported the development of additional reactors to be operational after 2000; and (5) utility company and nuclear industry officials generally supported the DOE approach to advanced nuclear reactor development, but did not plan to purchase advanced reactors until after 2000 because of their high cost and public opposition.

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