Curriculum Guide · Courses
Monopolies, Competition and the Regulation of Public Utilities
Professor Scott Hempling
J.D. Practicum 1019 | 4 credit hours
The law of public utility regulation supports and disciplines the nation's electricity, gas, telecommunications and water industries. Regulatory lawyers operate at the intersection of multiple professions (economics, finance, accounting, management, engineering and politics); jurisdictions (50 states and several federal agencies); and ideologies (e.g., private vs. public ownership, government intervention vs. "free market"). Regardless of the industry or era, public utility regulation has three common elements: its mission (to align corporate behavior with the public interest), its body of law (ranging from state law on monopoly franchises to federal constitutional protection of shareholder investment), and its flexibility (accommodating monopolistic and competitive market structures).
Today's policymakers are stretching utility law to address frontier problems, such as climate change (Should we require utilities and their customers to reduce and "green" energy production and consumption?); universal service (Should we bring broadband to every home?); homeland security (How vulnerable is utility infrastructure?); and privacy (Can regulators induces changes in personal energy consumption without expose personal consumption data?). A constant is state-federal tension over jurisdiction (e.g., Which aspects of utility service are "national," requiring uniformity; and which are "local," warranting state experimentation?).
Prerequisites: Students must complete the required first-year program prior to enrolling in this course (part-time and interdivisional transfer students may enroll prior to completing Criminal Justice, Property, or their first-year elective). Recommended: Administrative law.
Students may not concurrently enroll in this practicum course and a clinic (except Street Law) or another practicum course. Students may concurrently enroll in this practicum course and an externship.
THIS IS A PRACTICUM COURSE.