National Regulatory Research Institute

Revenue Caps or Price Caps? Robust Competition Later Means Healthy Choices New

The debate over restructuring the electric industry has encompassed a revisiting of the traditional rate-of-return (ROR) pricing model. Parties of widely divergent interests increasingly advocate alternatives. Under the label "performance-based regulation," these new pricing models share the objective of strengthening incentives for electric utilities incentives to pursue some specified "socially desirable" outcome.


On a bookshelf behind my desk I've stacked up a few older issues of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY. Some of them go back more than a half-century. Every so often I pull down a copy to see if I can learn anything from history.

Yes, the advertisements appear quaint (Royal typewriters; IBM punch-card machines; Ditto-brand duplicators). But some of the ideas still have legs, with lively quotations from the likes of Louis Brandeis, Harold Ickes, Walter Lippmann, and Fiorello La Guardia.

PUCs at 2000 - Question TwoState Commissioners

Question: What is your relationship with the state legislature? Do lawmakers in your state show interest in utility regulation? Should PUCs work more closely with state legislatures?Response by Boyce Griffith, Chairman, West Virginia Public Service Commission:

The West Virginia PSC's relationship with the legislature is good. The West Virginia legislature has been active in utility regulation. I believe West Virginia utilities already work closely with the legislature and will continue to do so.


T.R. Standish's letter ("NUGs Take the Cake," May 1, 1995) in response to our article ("How State Regulators Should Handle Retail Wheeling," Feb. 15, 1995) reflects the views of those who believe that the full benefits of competition in the electric power industry do not require retail competition. Mr. Standish, in fact, believes that retail competition is bad and not inevitable. We would like to address several of his points:

Reasonable people can certainly debate the inevitability of retail competition. But unlike Mr.

PUCs in Year 2000: Mixed Mission, Clear Challenge

You can look at the title in two ways: (a) "The sky is falling," or (b) "There's nothing new under the sun." But both views are wrong. Let me explain.

No one doubts that state public utility commissions (PUCs) must change. But we need not throw up our hands in despair or smile and pretend we've seen it all before. Yes, PUCs have seen major changes before. The 1930s expanded PUC authority from an advisory, sunshine role to serious oversight.

How State Regulators Should Handle Retail Wheeling

By Kenneth W. Costello, Robert E. Burns, and Youssef HegazyThe electric power industry is next in line for dramatic change. Competition has edged into individual markets, particularly the bulk-power market. This move toward competition has provoked debate in several states over the merits of retail wheeling. Specifically, should retail customers have the right to purchase their power requirements from sources other than the local utility? Many states have addressed the issue in different forums, at different levels of intensity.