Skip to main content

Three Mile Island: The Financial Fallout

EMD-80-89 Published: Jul 07, 1980. Publicly Released: Aug 07, 1980.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights


The nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island powerplant triggered a number of serious problems for the General Public Utilities Corporation, and affiliated companies, including a near financial crisis as they moved to purchase high-cost replacement power to maintain service to their customers. The companies must spend $500-600 million to decontaminate and repair the damaged nuclear reactor and related facilites while continuing to fund an additional $2 to 3 billion in capital expenditures to insure reliable electric service to their customers. GAO explored the financial alternatives for meeting the large costs and whether federal and state regulatory agencies effectively dealt with the situation. The corporation, through its extensive interconnections with other utility systems, was able to buy power to replace that lost from the Three Mile Island reactors, but the largely oil generated power had a high cost. This high cost of replacement power was not initially included in customers' utility rates and the companies had to find outside funding. Rate increases were finally approved by state regulatory agencies but the actual costs made it difficult for the companies to meet current expenses. Reduced earnings will likely affect the companies' ability to pay clean-up costs and maintain reliability. Regulatory controls over these activities are fragmented among three federal and two state agencies and provide no clear direction for planning clean-up, additional capacity requirements, and methods of financing.

Full Report

Office of Public Affairs


Accident preventionEnergy suppliesFiscal policiesNuclear energyNuclear facility safetyNuclear fuel plantsPublic utilitiesRegulationTax administrationUtility rates