Blog

July 2012

A colleague in another field bemoaned her career’s uphill battle, trying to persuade with facts and logic when so many people base preferences on faith and ideology.  In regulation, we're lucky.  Since regulation is about performance, there's not much room for faith and ideology.  Potholes get filled, transmission lines strung, and cell towers built because of facts and logic.

June 2012

Relying on the "market" is not a belief system—promising positive results in proportion to hopes and prayers.  Relying on the market is a public policy decision, requiring (a) fact-based confidence that sellers' incentives are aligned with customers' needs, and (b) skepticism that the facts supporting that confidence today will necessarily exist tomorrow.

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