Advice to Presidents and Governors
on Appointing Excellent Regulators

Your many duties include appointing and confirming economic regulators. In the utility sector, they are responsible for inducing high-quality performance by providers of electric, gas, water, and telecommunications service. Their decisions will affect millions of consumers; billions of investor dollars; the local, regional, and national economies; and our air, land, and water. Here are nine thoughts on producing top-notch results.

1. Appointments rooted in principle

“Regulation” is not a political whipping boy, something to campaign against. Nor is it a unidimensional spectrum on which “more” is better than “less.” Serious regulators do not debate oversimplifications like “command and control” versus “light-handed” regulation. (The regulatory legend Peter Bradford once noted, “I've heard of light-headed regulation, light-fingered regulation, and red-handed regulation; I know little of light-handed regulation.”) The purpose of regulation performance—aligning utilities' behavior with the public's needs. Principled regulators ask five questions: (1) What outcomes do we seek? (2) What behaviors, engaged in by whom, impede those outcomes? (3) What behaviors, engaged in by whom, achieve those outcomes? (4) To prevent the negatives and promote the positives, what actions must regulators take?

2. A multi-dimensional job

Utility regulation used to be straightforward. Utilities built infrastructure, sold products and services and proposed rate increases. Commissions approved projects and set rates. Their central aim was to protect customers from monopoly abuse—imprudent investments, inefficient operations, and undue discrimination against choiceless customers—while setting rates that gave investors a fair shot at a reasonable return.

Today's regulators do much more . . .


Testimony, Papers, and Presentations

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.

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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

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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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Electricity Jurisdiction

Letter to Governors and Legislators


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