Private and Social Costs of Electricity Generation by Source
May 18, 2011
This chart provides the best available estimates of the complete costs of electricity production for several different energy producing technologies, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and wind. The dramatic differences in the private and social costs of different energy sources illustrate how the low private cost energy sources we rely on often come with high social costs — usually in the form of negative health effects such as respiratory disease, increased infant mortality, or reduced life expectancy. When full costs for each source are calculated, the cost of electricity generation from coal become a full 170 percent higher, jumping from 3.2 cents to 8.8 cents.