In this article I examine the failure of the Chilean nuclear program in the mid 70s as a way of understanding the reorganization of Chile’s energy market under a new neoliberal rationale. To this end, I focus on one key dimension of this reorganization: the practical instauration in this market of a new evaluatory epistemology, i.e. a new set of epistemic references to authoritatively evaluate (economic) things. Specifically, the case of the Chilean nuclear program – and its dismissal by the newly arrived regulators – point at the emergence of a new form of expertise in this market (the economist as the ascendant scientific expert) mobilizing a new bundle of evaluative criteria (efficiency and comparative cost analyses).
Finally, the paper suggest that the failure Chilean nuclear program operated as an early experiment to test – and perform – the benefits of the adopted neoliberal framework. Thus the nuclear program became itself a key entity in the enactment of neoliberalism at large in Chile.