"This volume discusses governmental regulation of public utilities--firms supplying electricity, gas, telephones, and water. Regulation works best, the authors argue, when regulators adhere to the democratic process: public access to information, public participation in setting prices. The US democratic process is generally superior to that elsewhere, e.g., in South Africa, India, Peru, the UK, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, and other countries. The authors (an economist-reporter, a lawyer, and a regulator) have a wealth of experience in utility regulation, and it is evident on every page. The recent electricity crisis in California (and Enron's participation) receives considerable attention. Throughout the book the democratic process receives most of the credit or blame. Unfortunately, the economic analysis is either weak or incomplete (e.g., no mention of the contribution to the California electricity crisis of either the drought in the Pacific Northwest or the prohibition of forward contracts). The authors' detailed description of the US utility regulatory system will be especially useful to those new to the topic. A companion source of information to this book is a Web site containing updates and additional documentation. Summing Up: Recommended. Public and undergraduate library collections." -- R. A. Miller, Wesleyan University in CHOICE
About the Author
Greg Palast is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, Salon.com, and numerous other US, British, and international newspapers, magazines, and online publications. He writes the "Inside Corporate America" column for The Observer and is joining BBC-TV's premier news broadcast, Newsnight, as special investigations reporter. He is the winner of the prestigious Financial Times David Thomas Prize, in 1997 and the Industrial Society Investigative Story of the Year, in 1998. He has also been nominated by the UK Press Association as Business Writer of the Year in 1999. In 2000, Salon.com selected his report on the US elections as politics story of the year. He has been the subject of several documentaries, an NPR profile, and an upcoming "60 Minutes" feature. Jerrold Oppenheim has represented Attorneys General, consumers, low-income consumers, labor unions, environmentalists, and industry before utility regulatory commissions and other forums for more than 30 years. His precedent-setting cases include denial of utility plant siting and investment, setting service quality requirements, and abolition of discriminatory pricing, credit and marketing practices. He has lectured and published internationally, including monographs for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) and the National Council on Competition and the Electric Industry. Theo MacGregor was, until 1998, director of the Electric Power Division of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy, the state's utility regulator. She helped develop the rules and regulations by which electricity utilities operate in the market. She now runs MacGregor Energy Consultancy and provides expert analysis to state governments and other organisations about the electric industry.