Electric Power Problems

December 17, 1969

Report Outline
Chllenges For Electric Power Industry
Development and Regulation of Utilities
Nuclear Power and Financing Problems

Chllenges For Electric Power Industry

Surge In Consumer Demand For Electricity

A growing shortage of electric power is bewildering the American consumer. Blackouts and periods of restricted power use have been experienced in virtually every part of the country; no longer can a housewife assume she will get current at the mère flick of a switch. Service by electric utilities, generally speaking, has deteriorated because expansion of generating capacity has lagged far behind an unprecedented surge of customer demand.

Four years after the massive Northeast power blackout of November 1965, large private power companies across the country still have not installed the strong interconnections between systems that the Federal Power Commission deems necessary to ensure reliable service. And, in a battle that dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, big private utilities continue to oppose expansion of public power projects. To compound the problem, a number of badly needed new electric generating plants have been held back by construction delays or by public concern lest they damage the environment. Former F.P.C. Chairman Lee C. White has asserted that if obstacles to expansion are not soon removed, rationing of electricity—on either a voluntary or a mandatory basis—may be inevitable.

The national surge in demand for electric power is related both to rapid population growth and to the successful efforts of utilities and appliance manufacturers to promote new uses of electricity. Annual sales of window air conditioners have increased from 2.75 million to almost 5 million, and of central air conditioning units for homes and office buildings from 700,000 to about 1.5 million, since 1964. Sales of dishwashers, garbage disposal units, freezers and other heavy appliances likewise are booming. Although rates for electricity were almost halved between 1942 and 1967, the average annual household electric bill almost tripled during that period.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Public Utilities and Electricity
Feb. 19, 2010  Modernizing the Grid
Jan. 14, 2000  Utility Deregulation
Jan. 17, 1997  Restructuring the Electric Industry
Nov. 20, 1987  Deregulating Electric Power
Aug. 23, 1985  Electricity Supply: Surplus or Shortage?
Mar. 14, 1975  Future of Utilities
Dec. 17, 1969  Electric Power Problems
Jul. 15, 1953  Power Policy
Aug. 04, 1948  Power Shortage
Aug. 04, 1930  Publicly-Owned Power Plants
Jun. 28, 1928  Public Utilities' Propaganda in the Schools
Nov. 12, 1927  Power and Public Utility Issues
Aug. 30, 1926  Rural Electrification in the United States
Jan. 09, 1926  Public Regulation of Electrical Utilities
Electric Power
Nuclear Energy