Regulatory Law: Why So Unclear on Matters So Important?

Utility law defines the powers, rights and responsibilities of the participants:  utilities, competitors, customers, landowners, regulators and legislators.  When technological change brings market structure change, we look to law for stability:  for clear and consistent descriptions of those powers, rights and responsibilities.
In today's electric industry, the epicenter of technological and market structure change is the space called "distributed energy resources":  rooftop solar, community solar, microgrids, demand response, energy efficiency and storage—all ways to diversify and democratize how we produce and consume electric power.  DER is the eighth chapter in a book begun 40 years ago, the other chapters being long distance phone service, local wireline service, gas pipeline transportation, wholesale gas, wholesale electricity, retail gas and retail electricity.
In these efforts to bring competition into formerly monopolistic markets, in making powers, rights and responsibilities clear and consistent, how helpful is regulatory law?  On two crucial sub-questions, the answer is "Not very."


Testimony, Papers, and Presentations

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.

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

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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