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United States

UTILITIES IGNORE EXTERNAL COSTS

Utility decision-making does not always seem to change when social or environmental externalities are taken into account. A study released by the US Energy Information Administration found that decisions by the largest utilities in three major states -- California, Massachusetts and Wisconsin -- seemed unaffected by state regulators requiring external costs be considered. "Electricity Generation and Environmental Externalities: Case Studies" found little impact in a study of three of America's seven states that require utilities consider such costs in resource planning. Even when renewables were chosen, the decisions were not based upon externalities. Natural gas also seems to remain utilities' first choice, regardless of externalities. And the outlook for externalities influencing future decisions remains uncertain.

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