Effective Utility Regulation:
A Unifying Cause for a Divided America

We have 50 sovereign states, five inhabited territories and 3.8 million square miles.  We have 320 million people and plenty of political differences.  Yet across this diverse and divisive land, from Maine to New Mexico to Washington to Florida, the principles and practices of utility regulation are held in common.  Why? Here are nine possible answers—each one a lesson for our nation's leaders.

1. We don't build walls. One of the 20th century's greatest engineering achievements was the electrification of America. See National Academy of Engineering, Great Achievements and Great Challenges.  Electrical interconnection made America great. Interconnection brought integration—of diverse power sources from diverse markets. Supporting that electrical integration today is institutional integration—regional transmission organizations, formed by the broad-minded: government-owned and investor-owned utilities; independent producers, transmitters and marketers; conventional and renewable sources; centralized and dispersed sources; industrial, commercial and residential customers. Big-tent thinking.

Breaking down walls, regulators build unity from diversity.  That diversity promotes short-term economic efficiency (by substituting low-cost power for high-cost power); long-term cost savings (by making winter peaking capacity available for summer peak loads); clean air (by displacing high-polluting sources with low-polluting sources); and mutual support (as teams from fair-weather regions help restore service in storm-ravaged regions).  Diversity supports a common goal:  a reliable, low-polluting infrastructure for a national economy.  None of this could happen without regulation—the principles and practices that align self-interest with the public interest.  In regulation, we don't build walls.  We build connections, because success comes not from artificial isolation but from joint performance.

2.  We don't discriminate.  Ever since the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, every regulatory statute has prohibited discrimination. . . 


Testimony, Papers, and Presentations

The testimony relates to AltaGas’s proposed acquisition of WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas Light Company.
The testimony addresses the following: the effect of the transaction on consumers, including: (1) reasonableness of the purchase price, including whether the purchase price was reasonable in light of the savings that can be demonstrated from the merger and whether the purchase price is within a reasonable range; (2) whether ratepayer benefits . . .
Testimony addresses the issues of whether the proposed transaction affects the interests of ratepayers; the ability of JCP&L and MAIT to provide safe, adequate, and proper utility service at just and reasonable rates; and whether the proposed transaction is in the public interest.
This expert report was submitted to a federal trial court in May 2016 on behalf of City of Jacksonville, Florida. The litigation, and report, involve a 1943 disaffiliation of a gas corporation from its holding company, as mandated by the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. The report explains why the disaffiliation did not prevent liability for the costs of environmental cleanup, if such liability exists under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, from passing to the new corporation.

Books by Hempling

Regulating Public Utility Performance

“[A] comprehensive regulatory treatise …. In all respects, it merits comparison with Kahn and Phillips."

Regulating Public Utility Performance:  The Law of Market Structure, Pricing and Jurisdiction

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Preside or Lead

Preside or Lead?
The Attributes and Actions of Effective Regulators

Now Available on Kindle

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Hempling Appearances

Energy Bar Association
Panel on Practice Principles for New Regulatory Lawyers

UDC Law School Panel
Is the Exelon Takeover of Pepco in the Public Interest?

Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission
3rd Judges’ Seminar

Telecom Forum
Asamblea Plenaria REGULATEL

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While we will dearly miss you as NRRI's Executive Director—where you have been so invaluable—I am delighted that you will now be in the classroom enlightening and sparking the interest of the next generation.
— Paul J. Roberti, Commissioner, Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission