A review of nuclear energy in the United States: hidden by Todd H. Otis

By Todd H. Otis

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5 As a result of the segmentation of the residential market, most utilities refused to build electrical load in the illumination sector that represented four-fifths of their customers. They focused their marketing efforts, instead, on increasing consumption by the few upper-income households who could pay for full electric service. This class represented a large market, no doubt, but not a mass market. A report by Electrical World in 1927 testified to this widespread strategy. An industry analyst surveyed 376 large utilities serving an aggregate population of 54,500,000 persons.

5 The consumerism thesis implies that an expanding, conservative capitalism, largely unrestrained by governmental regulation or unfocused by legislatively mandated social policy, deserves credit for domestic electrical modernization. The consumerism thesis thereby denies that the New Deal significantly changedassuredly it did not revolutionizeAmerican domesticity. Bracketing the New Deal out of the history of modernization means that private industry substantially accomplished domestic electrical modernization in the 1920s, before the New Deal, or created in the decade of the 1920s the pattern of its fulfillment in the economic boom after World War II.

The results of this comparison affected the capability and willingness of corporation directors to wage battle in the home marketplace, or to try more ambitiously to break down the utilities' segmentation of the residential market. 16 Languid price competition among appliance companies is a strong indicator of their lack of interest in breaking down segmentation of the home market. They kept prices high throughout the decade. In 1929, the average price for electric refrigerators advertised in Riverside, California, newspapers was $268, for ranges $111, for washing machines $ 16, and for radios $116.

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