Many utilities obtain most of their electric power from large coal

Question

Many utilities obtain most of their electric power from large coal and nuclear operations at costs that are sometimes two to three times higher as that of power from smaller, more efficient plants that can both make use of waste heat and take advantage of the current abundance of natural gas.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

Sentence Analysis

  • Many utilities obtain most of their electric power (Main Subject: Many utilities; Main Verb: obtain)
    • from large coal and nuclear operations (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
    • at costs (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
      • that are sometimes two to three times higher as that of power from smaller, more efficient plants (Dependent clause modifying ‘costs’ – Subject: that; Verb: are)
        • that can both make use of waste heat and take advantage of the current abundance of natural gas. (Dependent Clause modifying ‘plants’ – Subject: that; Verb: can make and can take)

The sentence compares the costs of power from large operations and those from smaller plants.

The sentence has the following problems:

  1. “higher as” construction is incorrect. “higher than” is the correct construction.
  2. The comparison is between ‘costs’, not ‘cost’. The singular pronoun ‘that’ cannot refer to plural ‘costs’.

Please note that the construction ‘smaller, more efficient plants” is fine. We don’t need a comma between ‘smaller’ and ‘more efficient’.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons mentioned above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “higher by two to three times” is not a correct construction
  2. Error no. 1 of the original sentence
  3. Error no. 2 of the original sentence
  4. The presence of ‘both’ before can would lead to parallel structures ‘that can make use’ and ‘that take advantage’. Even though these structures are also fine, the structures ‘that can make use’ and ‘that can take advantage’ seem better. For these structures, we need ‘both’ to appear after ‘can’.

(C) Correct.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘between x to y’ construction is incorrect. ‘between x and y’ is the correct construction.
  2. Error no. 1 of the original sentence
  3. Problem no. 4 of option B

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option D
  2. The absence of pronoun ‘those’ after ‘than’ makes the comparison incorrect. ‘These costs are sometimes two to three times higher than from smaller plants’ doesn’t make sense since ‘what from smaller plants’ is not clear.
  3. The use of ‘they’ after ‘that’ makes the sentence structure deterministically wrong here since both ‘that’ and ‘they’ are subjects of the verb ‘can make and take’.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with scores of 780 (2017) and 770 (2013) on GMAT and 99.98%ile on CAT, Chiranjeev is one of the most qualified GMAT tutors in India. Chiranjeev has earlier served as Director of Curriculum at e-GMAT. Chiranjeev has been helping students ace GMAT since 2012. He follows a concept-based methodology to teaching GMAT and is very committed to student success. You may contact him for any private GMAT tutoring needs at CJ@GMATwithCJ.com. He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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