Steve Mitnick is president of Lines Up, Inc., editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly, and author of Lewis Latimer, The First Hidden Figure.
We just celebrated Samuel Insull's birthday in mid-November, the biggest holiday of the fall. Well, perhaps it's just one of the biggest. Anyway, as you might know, it was old Sam that proposed investor-owned electric utilities be subject to rate and service regulation by State Commissions. Since he was, at the time, the president of the association of investor-owned utilities (the predecessor to EEI), Sam's proposal considerably diminished his popularity among the other IOU leaders. In the eighteen nineties, these leaders treasured their ability to charge customers whatever they wanted, to serve whoever they wanted, and to not serve the remainder.
Yet they soon came to understand that regulation was as powerful for the IOUs as it was for customers. For regulation provided extraordinary confidence in utilities by the financial community and this enabled utilities to fund the industry's future.
So, this continues today. Regulated utilities have the ability to attract substantial capital at favorable rates and with that capital the ability to fund the future before us too. Which is kinda what EEI's annual Financial Conference is all about, including the one just held.
EEI Financial Conference articles: