We Bought PUF!


Nineteen Hundredth Issue. And the First.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2018

"Hello. I'm Victor Kiam. I used to be a dedicated wet shaver until my wife bought me this Remington M3 electric shaver. They said its two incredibly thin micro-screens and one hundred and twenty cutting edges shave as close as a blade or they'd give her money back. I was delighted and impressed. So impressed, I bought the company."

Do you remember that funny television commercial of the eighties? The seasoned businessman, sitting at his desk, says those iconic words. I was so impressed, I bought the company.

Why am I quoting Victor Kiam? Because I too bought the company. That is, Joe Paparello and I were so impressed with the power of the PUF platform — for opinion, commentary and debate — we bought it.

First, we dotted the i's and crossed the t's in the docs the lawyers put before us. Then, we wrote some checks, each with a few trailing zeros.

We formed the new company in April — while finishing May's issue — in our spare time. (What spare time?)

To provide the principal platforms for opinion, commentary and debate on utility regulation and policy. That's the goal. That's our job. Towards that end, taking nary a breath, we purchased the venerated Public Utilities Fortnightly. We were open for business on the first of May.

This is the nineteen hundredth issue of this magazine, plus or minus. But it's the first published by the new company.

Not to worry. The same team — Joe, Alexandra, Patricia, Mike, Angela and yours truly. The same mission — to be the Hyde's Park Speaker's Corner for utility regulation and policy.

And the same voices. Your voices.

When you submit an article or essay, or when you submit to our questions in interviews and roundtables, you want to impact the debate. Whether you're a leader or a thought-leader or both, we're here for you.

Stand up on our platform for a few minutes, grab the megaphone, and say your piece. Speak up in PUF and you have a chance to redirect the conventional wisdom on market compensation, rate structure, business models, grid modernization, etc.

The new company's name, Lines Up, derives from the title of my 2013 book, Lines Down (subtitled, How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm). That book looked at investment in the nation's electric infrastructure from the public interest perspective.

The first word of the company name, Lines, has a double meaning. The word evokes existing transmission lines that can be knocked down in storms, and new lines that can be put up to improve reliability for electric customers; essentially everyone. And it evokes lines —- sentences and paragraphs — of opinion, commentary and debate.

The second word of the company name, Up, has a double meaning too. Up suggests growth and optimism. Up is also an acronym for utility policy. So, Lines Up can mean lines of opinion, commentary and debate on utility policy.

In the eighteen months leading to the purchase of PUF, nearly two hundred member organizations joined our community. State public utility commissions, state consumer advocate agencies, investor-owned and other utilities, and utility industry associations, vendors and professional firms.

Our core members are the fifty-one state public utility commissions. This is in keeping with the ninety-year history of Public Utilities Fortnightly, founded in part by the most respected commissioners of the day, and endorsed in the twenties and thirties by the association of state commissions, NARUC.

Our highest priority is therefore to make PUF - and other platforms we'll introduce — engaging, informative and beautiful for the two hundred state commissioners and their dedicated staff now numbering eight thousand three hundred.

Our other constituencies are very important too. State consumer advocates, investor-owned, public and cooperative utilities, and utility industry associations, vendors and professional firms, we love you too. We serve you too.

The views expressed in PUF are those of our members, not ours. We serve you. The views expressed in PUF are your views.

We recognize that by buying PUF we buy into a big responsibility. I'm talking about balance.

We're like the commissions themselves. Fairly liberal in admitting parties to a proceeding, to hear a broad range of views. Though fairly strict in expecting competing parties to respect the process and their adversaries in the debate as well.

And so we start anew. The next ninety years of Public Utilities Fortnightly. We feel like the crew of the starship Enterprise in The Next Generation, taking on the legacy from the crew in the original series.

As The Next Generation, this is our intro to you, our viewing audience:

Utility regulation and policy: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Public Utilities Fortnightly. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new dockets. To seek out new rate structures and new business models. To boldly go where no one has gone before!