Certification of Regulatory Professionals: Why Not? (Part II)

Last month's essay argued for certification—or at least for sustained conversation about certification. This month, I offer thoughts and questions about how certification might work.  I focus on possible certifying entities, processes and curricula for supporting courses.


Possible Certifying Entities

Certifying entities fall into three categories:  academic, government and private.

Academic institutions certify acquisition of knowledge by granting degrees.  The requirements vary widely by institution and subject matter.

Government bodies certify readiness to perform specific services that government has determined require certification, such as law, pharmacy, medicine, realty sales and engineering; even cosmetology, massage therapy and tattooing.  In these situations, government rules prohibit noncertified persons from performing these services—or at least claiming to be certified when they are not.  In the legal profession, certification beyond the general bar exam is rare; indeed bar rules typically prohibit a lawyer from claiming to "specialize" in anything (patent law is a prominent exception).

But—news from North Carolina, from a renewables lawyer there:  "A group of attorneys in North Carolina is petitioning the North Carolina State Bar to create a new area of legal specialization for utilities law, which would include practice and procedure before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, representation of clients subject to the provisions of state and federal utilities law, and representation of investors in the field."  The requirements would likely include "five years’ experience in utilities law, a minimum of 400-500 hours of practice in the area per year, CLE requirements, peer review, and passing an exam."

Private organizations certify readiness to perform services where certification is not government-regulated.  In these situations, a profession, through its organization, has determined that there is value to the public and to the service provider (in terms of market value) to create a certification process.  Examples of such professions are financial planning, city planning, meeting management and religious ministry.  There is the Society of Regulatory and Utility Financial Analysts, which certifies through an exam.  And there is even an organization that certifies alcohol servers.  See tipsalcohol.com. (TIPS stands for "Training for Intervention Procedures"—"the global leader in education and training for the responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol."  It provides certification "valid or accepted for use in bars and restaurants in 30+ states."  Certification, I am told, can protect a bar from lawsuits by those injured by drivers who drank there.)


Testimony, Papers, and Presentations

Direct testimony before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in the Joint Application of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas LLC, for Authority to Adjust Electric, Natural Gas, and Steam Rates
A layperson’s introduction to regulation created by Scott Hempling in support of The British Columbia Utilities Commission's inquiry into whether utility regulation should extend to utilities owned by indigenous nations.
This tesimony relates to the modification of rates, charges, and tariffs for retail electric service in Oklahoma.
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 . . .

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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Working with Scott Hempling is both a pleasure and an honor. Ethical, fair-minded, and dedicated—these are a few of the attributes that Scott brings to his work and his clients. His pursuit of justice is to ensure that a practical outcome will ensue. Scott recognizes the significance of every issue and its implications for any person involved either directly or indirectly. His wide-angle lens encompasses a broad and deep technical legal knowledge that allows him to decipher and give insight into every challenge.
— Elise Herzig, President and CEO, Ontario Energy Association