Utility Laws are the social, environmental, and economic arrangements connecting individuals. These arrangements allocate the public goods most efficiently. Think of them as the social contracts underlying our political, environmental, and financial institutions.

Utilities are services provided by private organizations that are essential for everyday living. Local, state, and federal governments regulate them.

Electrical Power

Electric Power between utilities is governed by the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), a law Congress passed in 1978. PURPA requires independent power producers (IPPs) to be allowed to interconnect with major electric utilities' distribution and transmission grids and not to pay onerous rates for backup power supplies or transmission services.

For Independent Power Producers (IPPs), PURPA does protect from burdensome costs for backup power supplies and transmission services but does give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the authority to allow utilities to pay IPPs above the avoided cost. The FERC, which has jurisdiction over most interstate electricity transmission, is ultimately responsible for establishing rates under PURPA. But appeals courts have ruled that PURPA's reasoning cannot override FERC's statutory mandate to establish just and reasonable rates.

Electric energy production is a part of our personal and professional lives and, as such, is an entity that state governments should supervise.

Electric utility companies must make electricity available to the public at applicable lawful rates, and these rate schedules must be approved by the state public service commissions. Sometimes, these rates are challenged, and administrative hearings are held to allow the utilities to petition for rate increases.

Rates that would allow considerably more than a fair return may be struck down as unjustly high. This is to ensure that utility companies do not over-charge customers.

Electricity can be dangerous if used unsafely. Examples include:
  • faulty wiring,
  • power lines close to trees and buildings,
  • ominous warning signs and fences around transformer stations, and
  • Over-buried electrical cables.

Proper markings and signage for marking electrical hazards can help mitigate and prevent serious injuries.