Blog: General

June 2012

A Canadian regulatory proceeding on a major pipeline has 4000 intervenors.  (No typo; there are three zeros in that figure.  And this is the technical hearing, not the non-technical hearing.)

U.S. commissioners spend time "on the road," hearing from the public in official, but non-evidentiary, hearings.  It's worth asking two questions:  What is the specific value of non-evidentiary hearings? And is there tension between that specific value and current legal reality?

June 2012

A very smart colleague came up with this one while running his tractor.

May 2012

A utility’s plant construction exceeds budget by hundreds of millions.  It seeks cost recovery, claiming that the design changes, delays and scheduling conflicts that caused the overrun were not its fault.  But it insists the supporting data is confidential.   A reporter asked me:  Can the state commission make customers pay for the overrun when the claimed support remains secret? 

There are two legal principles relevant to the question.

May 2012

Last fall I testified in the merger proceeding before the Maryland Commission (the testimony was on behalf of the State of Maryland).  Summarizing about 40 pages of analysis, I commented that the merger would attach Baltimore Gas & Electric (Constellation's utility subsidiary) to "a corporate positioning trajectory that is unknown, unbounded by Maryland's public interest and largely outside the Commission's control, permanently."  One of the Applicants' witnesses objected to this statement as "hyperbole," "designed to shock the Commi

April 2012
  1. Utility regulation's original purpose was to protect the consumer from abuse and inefficiency.  But consumers have tended to demand that regulation protect them from risk—including risks caused by their own behavior.  What can regulation do to correct this trend?
  2. The externalities of consumption and production are having global and possibly irreversible effects.  At the same time, the public is showing less willingness to accept limits on what it considers its freedoms to consume and produce.  What role can and should regulation play
March 2012

The blog dated February 12, 2012, noted that state renewable portfolio statutes discriminate against out-of-state sources.  These state actions are, of course, doubly anti-state:  They aim their arrows at other states; and they invite federal preemption, by federal statutes or by the Commerce Clause, or both.  While their authors defend the provisions as necessary to get laws passed, the blog saw more long-term harm than good, to anyone or anything—labor, renewable energy, the environment and states themselves.