Andrew P. Morriss
Although public utility regulation has passed through a series of regulatory paradigms, and is currently settling on some form of “deregulation, ” economists have never thought it particularly difficult technically. Implementing the technical solutions suggested by economists, however, has proved far more difficult. Once lawyers take possession of the straightforward regulatory concepts offered by economists, the laws that result contribute to high levels of inefficiency. These inefficiencies in turn spur the creation of new regulatory paradigms. Time and again, the law, or at least public utility law, has proved inadequate to the task of implementing the economists' visions.
In this chapter, I will argue that public utility regulation in the U.S. follows a cyclical pattern in which economists identify problems with a utility industry, economists offer a solution, lawyers imperfectly implement the solution, and the imperfections create inefficiencies that restart the cycle. The question is therefore whether deregulation is the end of this history or merely
The End of a Natural Monopoly: Deregulation and Competition in the Electric Power Industry, Volume 7, pages 193-213.
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