Past Hempling Seminars: A History of the Electricity Industry Since 1998

The Fundamentals

For over a century, utility regulators have supported, and disciplined, the nation's electricity, gas, telecommunications, and water industries.  Regardless of the industry or era, all public utility regulation has these common elements:  its mission (to align private utility behavior with the public interest); its body of law (ranging from the state law on exclusive monopoly franchise to federal constitutional protection of shareholder investment); its reliance on multiple professions (law, economics, finance, accounting, management, and engineering); and its flexibility (accommodating multiple industry structures and a range of public purposes, from reliability to environmental accountability).

New political challenges are causing policymakers to stretch regulation's core principles and processes.  Examples of these challenges are climate change (e.g., To what extent should we make utilities and their customers responsible for "greening" energy production and consumption?), universal service (e.g., Should we bring broadband to every home, and at whose cost?), and privacy (How do regulators induce personal changes in energy consumption while protecting the related data from public exposure?).  Two constants are ideological debate (e.g., private vs. public ownership, government intervention vs. "free market"); and state–federal tension (e.g., Which aspects of utility service are "national," requiring uniformity, and which are "local," warranting state experimentation?).

Since 1997 I have taught these topics in seminars attended by thousands of students, lawyers, and non-lawyers from all 50 states and Canada, India, Jamaica, Japan, and Norway.  Each fall I offer a Fundamentals course, covering

  • market structure,
  • sales of power and transmission, and
  • corporate structure. 

While many of the fundamental legal principles have remained stable for a century, we've added essential topics like

  • regional transmission and planning,
  • retail competition,
  • demand response,
  • smart grid,
  • renewable energy initiatives, and
  • market pricing. 

View the Table of Contents

The Fundamentals of Electricity Law 2014.pdf

The Changes

In the electric industry, change is constant.  So, in addition to the fall Fundamentals seminars, each spring I create an entirely new course, Current Topics, devoted to electricity law developments of the previous year.

In the past, we've addressed

  • entry barriers in retail competition markets,
  • bankruptcy law's effect on regulatory authority,
  • the Mobile-Sierra doctrine (especially its interaction with market prices),
  • the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (especially its repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935),
  • regional capacity markets,
  • federal-level reliability regulation,
  • outage policies,
  • regional market planning,
  • integration of renewable power,
  • and the seemingly endless set of tensions between federal and state regulation.

You can see this march of events by clicking below to view each Table of Contents from the spring courses since 1998 (except for 2008).

current_topics_1998.pdf               current_topics_2005.pdf       current_topics_2013.pdf

current_topics_1999.pdf               current_topics_2006.pdf        current_topics_2014.pdf

current_topics_2000.pdf               current_topics_2007.pdf

current_topics_2001.pdf               current_topics_2009.pdf

current_topics_2002.pdf               current_topics_2010.pdf

current_topics_2003.pdf               current_topics_2011.pdf

current_topics_2004.pdf               current_topics_2012.pdf