Blog

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
April 2012

by Former State Commissioner

Nice essay. My biggest plea to my staff when I was a regulator was to at least “think about what issues this filing raises” and point them out to us. I told them I wasn’t as interested in the end result as I was in evidence that they had thought about the competing issues before drafting an entry approving (or disapproving) the application before them. 

March 2012

In response to my Monthly Essay in March 2012 , (“Mergers:  Are the Promoters Ahead of the Regulators?”), a colleague responded:

“I would go further myself.  I am willing to forego supposed benefits flowing from increased scale if it would mean smaller entities competing more vigorously (because there are more of them) in the economic or political marketplace.”

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.

February 2012

In a state where rate levels have made headlines, a reporter asked me, "Since the commission is independent, what can the governor do?"  My answer was, "Plenty." 

The consumer's concern is not about rates, but about the monthly bill.  A governor can lead:

February 2012

One of my law students completed a research paper showing that most state renewable portfolio statutes contain provisions favoring in-state sources to the disadvantage of out-of-state sources.  Some advocates of this approach—and of renewable energy—defend this discrimination on the grounds of necessity:  Bringing jobs and economic development to the state softens opposition to the price increases that will result.  Getting a bill passed is worth violating the U.S. Constitution.