Environment: Heresy in Power

In 1967, when Charles F. Luce became chairman of New York's huge Consolidated Edison Co., his first priority seemed clear. Since the average New Yorker then used only half as much electricity as the average American, Luce yearned to boost consumption—and did. But last week he told a startled Manhattan audience: "The wisdom of three years ago is the idiocy of today." Instead of trying to increase consumption, he now wants to decrease it.

Luce is regarded as one of the most socially responsible leaders in the utility business. He is also a realist. Crippled by equipment breakdowns. Con Ed has been...

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