The Common Law "Duty To Serve" and Protection of Consumers in an Age of Competitive Retail Public Utility Restructuring
Rossi, Jim, 1965-
This article addresses the implications of retail competition in public utility industries, particularly electricity, for utility service obligations. After tracing the history of the common law duty to serve applicable to public utilities, the efficiency of utility service obligations in the context of rate regulation is explored. Retail competition, many suggest, poses a threat to utility service obligations. However, regulators can minimize the inefficiency of traditional utility service obligations without sacrificing the benefits of retail competition if they pay attention to the structural efficiency of competitive retail markets. The article advocates imposition of basic service obligations on the DisCo and voluntary procurement of power supply financed through a systems benefits charge in the context of PoolCo retail competition model. In addition, the implications of competition in distribution markets on service obligation financing are explored.