Public Utilities Reports

PUR Guide 2012 Fully Updated Version

Available NOW!
PUR Guide

This comprehensive self-study certification course is designed to teach the novice or pro everything they need to understand and succeed in every phase of the public utilities business.

Order Now

The 1998 Utility Regulators Forum Four States, Eight Views: Looking Back on Deregulation

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1998

think it's an outstanding development."

? Who's Best?

"I think we have [restructured the best]. Because structurally, we've done the whole thing. I think Pennsylvania's got more customers who switched ¼ but again, the only customers that saved were the ones that switched, where in California, they're given a 10 percent rate reduction up front and they'll get another 10 or 15 percent in 2002 and then they'll get another 10 percent in 2007, 2008."

MASSACHUSETTS: Janet Gail Besser, chairwoman, and Paul B. Vasington, commissioner, the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy.

Besser, who comes from nearly 10 years on Massachusetts and New Hampshire regulatory staffs, thinks of herself as a pragmatist, more on the free- market end of the spectrum, but she's "not religious about it." Vasington, meanwhile, didn't begin working on the commission until March 2, four months after restructuring legislation passed. He has been involved with the two companies with whom the commission is litigating, Fitchburg Gas & Electric Co. and Western Massachusetts Electric. Prior to working in the private sector, Vasington was on the commission telecommunications division staff for six years. He worked with former chairman and free marketeer Ken Gordon.

Paul B. Vasington

Commissioner, Mass. DTEDe

Deregulating Over Again.

"The commission should have looked more carefully at how long the transition period should be, to a point where the market is able to clear a price for generation service.

"We had a legislative need for short-term rate reductions here and that has impacted our ability to transition the market to a place where we can actually clear a price, a market price for generation. I would have done that somewhat differently.

"I would involve some kind of mechanism to insure that the regulator takes steps away from the process once competitive market forces are sufficient. There is a reluctance for regulators to step back ¼ there's always that temptation to want to direct the process and direct the outcomes."

Learning From Mistakes.

"One mistake that was made was obtaining short-term rate relief at the cost of allowing a market to develop more quickly. There's an impatience in wanting to obtain the benefits of competition right away."

ISO vs. Transco.

"At the moment, we're pursuing an ISO model and from all indications its been fairly successful ¼ we have had quite an ability to affect that and to be a player in that through the New England regional commissioners group. So I think at the moment I'm pretty happy at how that model is working."

? Interventionist or Free Market?

"We leaned very much toward an interventionist position in this state. My personal preference is to rely more on market forces, but we do have legislative requirements in place to be fairly interventionist. We have very strict requirements on labeling and other information that has to be provided to customers. I have a little more faith in the marketplace to provide that information."

Learning From Others.

"We learned from Pennsylvania ¼ the value of a settlement process that involved the active participation of the commissioners. I think they