WHEN 42 PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS HUDDLED in private recently at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver to discuss their roles come 2003, they came to a striking conclusion: Someday they might be...
PUCs at 2000 - Question TwoState Commissioners
be dissuaded last spring from enacting a flash-cut to competition in telecommunications that would have tipped the playing field steeply in favor of new entrants. Legislators suspected the commission of foot-dragging to retain regulatory control.
Improving this climate can only come from honest, informed communication with legislators. [End of Miller response]
Response by Jim Sullivan, President, Alabama Public Service Commission:
The traditional answer to this question is that the Alabama PSC is a body created by the legislature to handle the regulation of utilities and common carriers in the state. As such, the statutes we operate under and enforce are the will of the legislature. In the past, the legislature has accorded the PSC a degree of deference in supporting proposed legislation that we felt necessary to carrying out our mandated duties. In addition, the legislature and executive branch have been open to input from the PSC concerning legislation proposed and sponsored by other entities.
I would not say that the Alabama legislature shows an inordinate amount of interest in utility regulation. To state the obvious, regulation is driven by politics as well as economics. Sometimes these goals are compatible; other times they are not. When these goals appear to be in conflict, I would prefer to err on the side of economic efficiency rather than political expediency. As a practical matter, the executive branch sends a request for a PSC response on any proposed legislation that will affect us or a utility we have jurisdiction over. At that time, we are free to point out any problems
we may detect in the proposed legislation, and to propose amendments we feel might be appropriate. This system works well and includes the PSC in charting our direction.
The future direction of regulation will necessarily require our PSC to work more closely with the legislature. Statutory language will likely require change as the industries are shaped and changed by actions at the federal level. Rules concerning authority over new areas of interest, or change toward more flexible processes, may require legislative action and direction. At the same time, the PSC will need to educate the legislature to ensure that our operational resource base is not compromised by a misunderstanding of the PSC's future role. Such interaction between the commissioners and the legislature must occur to clarify the link between competition, deregulation, and the public interest and promote recognition that the work of the PSC is vital to all concerned. Based on the past record, I would say that this process will come about to the benefit of all. [End of Sullivan response]
END OF RESPONSES TO QUESTION TWO
Articles found on this page are available to Internet subscribers only. For more information about obtaining a username and password, please call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-368-5001.