Tag Archives: Energía nuclear

Neoliberal electricity: economics and the purification of energy

March 5th will be the fifth 2013-2014 meeting of the Copenhagen Markets and Valuations Group*. We will be visited by Manuel Tironi (CSISP – Goldsmith, University of London – Instituto de Sociologia, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) who will present and discuss his paper: “Neoliberal electricity: economics and the purification of energy”. March 5th 10:00-12:00, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Kilen, Kilevej 14A, 4, 2000 Frederiksberg. Room: Kilen, K4.74. The seminar is free and open for participation, but it is expected that participants have read the circulated material. To attend, please register with seminar.ioa@cbs.dk (please mention the name of this seminar in the subject of your email) and you will receive the readings. Continue reading

Neoliberal electricity: energy, experimentation and the purification of the economy

[Pido disculpas por lo largo y desordenado del post: es un copy/paste de un paper en construcción y de apuntes para una presentación en el último ISA en Buenos Aires, más inserciones varias para hacer el texto algo más legible].

Introduction: neoliberalism in the making

In 1975 the Comisión Chilena de Energía Nuclear (CCHEN) submitted to government evaluation the Plan de Energía Nucleoeléctrica (PEN), a detailed technical and economic program to introduce the first commercial nuclear plant by 1989. By the mid-1970s the PEN had become one of the most important and ambitious technological programs in the country. Embedded in the ambience of fascination towards (nuclear) technology that had imbued Latin America, and propelled by the geopolitical race against Argentina, the Chilean government – particularly during Pinochet’s military regimen – trained several dozen army engineers in nuclear operations and engineering, signed multiple assistance and research agreements, created extended networks of institutional and technical allies, and, more importantly, enrolled ENDESA and CHILECTRA – national symbols of Chile’s technological capabilities – imbuing the PEN in an epic narrative of technological and industrial development. The PEN seemed not only necessary, but inevitable given its inertia: the technological momentum of the PEN was too strong to stop the motion of events. All the pieces were aligned and a lot of effort had been invested: the PEN had built an irrevocability that seemed impossible to revert. But it was: in 1979, the Comisión Nacional de Energía (CNE), established the year before by the arriving team of Chicago-trained economists to explicitly “transform the energy sector into a market”, drafted a 220-pages document arguing for the cancellation of the NEP.

The story about the cancellation of the PEN can be told in several ways. Here I will choose one in particular: a story about neoliberalism in Chile. But in lieu of understanding neoliberalism as an epochal and abstract force, the case at hand lends itself to inquire neoliberalism as a set of situated material and knowledge practices – and therefore unfolding in specific sites and through specific controversies. Continue reading