To the Editor:
These comments are prompted by Editor-in-Chief Michael T. Burr’s discussion of a regulator’s “goodness” in the November 2007 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly (“Creating the Perfect Regulator”) and related aspects of other articles. I deem the quality (fairness) of regulation to be of considerable importance, because fairness is a leading indicator of the business climate. I am aware that large energy users pay attention to this indicator of the business climate when evaluating sites for new facilities or expansion of existing facilities, because I have helped some to do so.
Burr identifies four fundamental goodness traits: omniscience, Solomonic wisdom, clairvoyance and righteousness. Inherent in these traits, but not specifically addressed by Burr, is the ability to recognize and reject advice from those interested in telling the regulator what the advisors think the regulator wants to hear instead of what the regulator should hear. I view this ability as a necessary aspect of high-quality regulation. However, successfully exercising such an ability would require that politics be eliminated from the regulatory process—something I judge to be impossible.