Power Play

By Lapp, David | Multinational Monitor, May 1995 | Go to article overview

Power Play


Lapp, David, Multinational Monitor


Buried within the massive telecommunications proposals now before Congress is a long-sought victory for the nation's large electric utilities: the removal of a 60-year-old ban on their participation in telecommunications businesses. Elimination of the ban would allow an unprecedented expansion of already immense monopoly power, jeopardizing electric and telecommunications ratepayers and environmental protection, critics say.

If the legislation passes, "the resulting conglomerate[s] would be extremely powerful multistate, multifaceted utility monopol[ies], potentially controlling every aspect of utility services for ratepayers: electric, gas, telephone, cable, mass media and even information services," warns Larry Frimerman, legislative liaison for the Ohio Office of the Consumers' Counsel. "Such powerful entities could control both the content and the methods of delivery for all of these services. An entity controlling so much of our utility network would be difficult to police."

A pending bill moving through Congress would remove restrictions on the ability of electric utilities to diversity into unregulated telecommunications businesses. These restrictions were imposed under New Deal legislation, the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), after a period when a few massive holding companies controlled virtually all U.S. utilities and non-utility businesses as well. These companies cost investors and ratepayers untold sums through such monopoly ploys as cross-subsidization, whereby ratepayers subsidize the utility's ventures in unregulated industries.

PUHCA ensures that companies benefiting from government-granted franchises make serving their "captive" customers their primary obligation and that states can effectively protect consumers by regulating utility rates. Its key provisions impose strict limits on diversification into unrelated businesses and promote local ownership and control. PUHCA's most strict regulations govern "registered" holding companies, which are generally larger and operate in multiple states, because they are less susceptible to effective state regulation, (The 10 registered electric holding companies hold about $115 billion in assets and earned more than $3 billion in profits in 1994.)

A broad coalition of consumer and environmental groups - ranging from organizations representing large industrial electric consumers and state consumer advocates to national public interest groups - oppose allowing energy companies to participate in telecommunication markets. In a letter to Senate Republican leadership in March 1995, the coalition wrote: "The anti-competitive aspects of the current [Senate] bill are two-fold: it places millions of electric and gas customers at risk from the tremendous market power these utilities continue to enjoy, and it jeopardizes the development of true competition in telecommunications markets because of the likelihood of cross subsidies .... The only real guarantee that anti-competitive behavior can be prevented is to prohibit the possibility of cross-subsidization in the first place, by preventing monopoly owners from entering telecommunication markets."

Utility executives have been surprisingly forthright about their intention to reach into the pockets of electric ratepayers to subsidize their telecommunications ventures. At a congressional hearing on similar legislation last summer, utility representatives advocated that ratepayers serve as the "anchor tenant" for construction of the information highway. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Power Play
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.