Public utility

A public utility (usually just utility) is an organization that maintains the infrastructure for a public service (often also providing a service using that infrastructure). Public utilities are subject to forms of public control and regulation ranging from local community-based groups to statewide government monopolies.

The term utilities can also refer to the set of services provided by these organizations consumed by the public: Coal, electricity, natural gas, water, sewage, telephone, and transportation. Broadband internet services (both fixed-line and mobile) are increasingly being included within the definition.[1][2][3][4]

United States

In the United States, public utilities are often natural monopolies because the infrastructure required to produce and deliver a product such as electricity or water is very expensive to build and maintain.

As a result, they are often government monopolies, or if privately owned, the sectors are specially regulated by a public utilities commission.[1][2] The first public utility in the United States was a grist mill on Mother Brook in Dedham, Massachusetts.[5]

Developments in technology have eroded some of the natural monopoly aspects of traditional public utilities. For instance, electricity generation, electricity retailing, telecommunication, some types of public transit and postal services have become competitive in some countries and the trend towards liberalization, deregulation and privatization of public utilities is growing. However, the infrastructure used to distribute most utility products and services has remained largely monopolistic.

Public utilities can be privately owned or publicly owned. Publicly owned utilities include cooperative and municipal utilities. Municipal utilities may actually include territories outside of city limits or may not even serve the entire city. Cooperative utilities are owned by the customers they serve. They are usually found in rural areas. Publicly owned utilities are non-profit. Private utilities, also called investor-owned utilities, are owned by investors,[6][7][8] and operate for profit, often referred to as a rate of return.

Public utilities provide services at the consumer level, be it residential, commercial, or industrial consumer. In turn, utilities and very large consumers buy and sell electricity at the wholesale level through a network of RTOs and ISOs within one of three grids, the eastern grid, Texas, which is a single ISO, and the western grid.

Public utilities commissions

A public utilities commission is a governmental agency in a particular jurisdiction that regulates the commercial activities related to associated electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and/or passenger transportation companies. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission (or CPUC) [3] and the Public Utility Commission of Texas regulate the utility companies in California and Texas, respectively, on behalf of their citizens and ratepayers (customers). These public utility commissions (PUCs) are typically composed of commissioners, who are appointed by their respective governors, and dedicated staff that implement and enforce rules and regulations, approve or deny rate increases, and monitor/report on relevant activities. Over the years, various changes have dramatically re-shaped the mission and focus of many public utility commissions. Their focus has typically shifted from the up-front regulation of rates and services to the oversight of competitive marketplaces and enforcement of regulatory compliance.[9]

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the state, private firms, and charities ran the traditional public utilities. For instance, the Sanitary Districts were established in England and Wales in 1875 and in Ireland in 1878.

The term can refer to the set of services provided by various organizations that are used in everyday life by the public, such as: electricity generation, electricity retailing, electricity supplies, natural gas supplies, water supplies, Sewage works, sewage systems and broadband internet services.[10] They are regulated by Ofgem, Ofwat and Ofcom. Disabled community transport services may occasionally be included within the definition. They were mostly privatised in the UK during the 1980s.


  1. ^ a b "Public utility - Definition". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  2. ^ a b "public utility definition". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  3. ^ a b "California Public Utilities Commission". 2007-03-23. Archived from the original on 2011-10-10. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  4. ^ Ruiz, Rebecca R.; Lohr, Steve (26 February 2015). "F.C.C. Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Classifying Broadband Internet Service as a Utility". Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2018 – via
  5. ^ "Where Growth Centers". The Salina Evening Journal. Salina, Kansas. November 6, 1922. p. 13. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2015 – via open access
  6. ^ "investor-owned utility (IOU), private utility, private power company". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Electric Utilities". Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  8. ^ Pentland, William. "Investor-Owned Utilities: Asleep at the Switch or Above the Law?". Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Public Utilities Commission of Texas". Public Utilities Commission of Texas. Archived from the original on 14 August 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Utilities Websites". Archived from the original on 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2011-10-11.

External links

Calero Reservoir

Calero Reservoir is an artificial lake in the Santa Teresa Hills south of San Jose, California, United States. A 4,471-acre (1,809 ha) county park surrounds the reservoir and provides limited fishing ("catch-and-release"), picnicking, hiking, and horseback riding activities. Although swimming is prohibited, boating, water-skiing and jet-skiing are permitted in the reservoir.The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment released a "Do Not Eat" warning regarding eating any fish caught from this reservoir based on the elevated mercury level.

California Public Utilities Commission

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC or PUC) is a regulatory agency that regulates privately owned public utilities in the state of California, including electric power, telecommunications, natural gas and water companies. In addition, the CPUC regulates common carriers, including household goods movers, passenger transportation companies such as limousine services, and rail crossing safety. The CPUC has headquarters in the Civic Center district of San Francisco, and field offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Concession (contract)

A concession or concession agreement is a grant of rights, land or property by a government, local authority, corporation, individual or other legal entity.Public services such as water supply may be operated as a concession. In the case of a public service concession, a private company enters into an agreement with the government to have the exclusive right to operate, maintain and carry out investment in a public utility (such as a water privatisation) for a given number of years. Other forms of contracts between public and private entities, namely lease contract and management contract (in the water sector often called by the French term affermage), are closely related but differ from a concession in the rights of the operator and its remuneration. A lease gives a company the right to operate and maintain a public utility, but investment remains the responsibility of the public. Under a management contract the operator will collect the revenue only on behalf of the government and will in turn be paid an agreed fee.

A grant of land or property by a government may be in return for services or for a particular use, a right to undertake and profit by a specified activity, a lease for a particular purpose. A concession may include the right to use some existing infrastructure required to carry out a business (such as a water supply system in a city); in some cases, such as mining, it may involve merely the transfer of exclusive or non-exclusive easements.

In the private sector, the owner of a concession — the concessionaire — typically pays either a fixed sum or a percentage of revenue to the owner of the entity from which it operates. Examples of concessions within another business are concession stands within sporting venues and movie theaters and concessions in department stores operated by other retailers. Short term concessions may be granted as promotional space for periods as short as one day.

Depending on what the law that is related to a sector states, concession can either allow the authority to retain or keep ownership of the assets, turning over to the concessionaire and reverting the ownership back to an authority once the duration of their concession ended, or both the authority and concessionaire own the facilities.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is a state agency of Connecticut. The department oversees the natural resources and environment of the state, as well as regulating public utilities and energy policy. It is headquartered in Hartford.

The agency was created on July 1, 2011, by the merging of two other state agencies, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control. Daniel C. Esty was appointed as commissioner of the DEEP upon its creation in July, 2011. Rob Klee has served as Commissioner of the Department since January, 2014.


A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or counties, several municipalities, subdivisions of municipalities, school district, or political district.

Lake Piru

Lake Piru is a reservoir located in Los Padres National Forest and Topatopa Mountains of Ventura County, California, created by the construction in 1955 of the Santa Felicia Dam on Piru Creek, which is a tributary of the Santa Clara River.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (Abbreviation: LTFRB; Filipino: Lupon sa Pagpaprangkisa at Regulasyon ng Transportasyong-Lupa) is an agency of the Republic of the Philippines under the Department of Transportation (DOTr). The LTFRB was established on June 19, 1987 during the former president Corazon Aquino’s administration.

The LTFRB is responsible for promulgating, administering, enforcing, and monitoring compliance of policies, laws, and regulations of public land transportation services. The agency is in charge of granting franchises or accreditations and regulating public vehicles such as Public Utility Buses (PUBs), Mini-buses, Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs), Utility Vehicle (UV) Express Services, Filcab service, school services, taxies, Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), and Tourist Transport Services.

Nanjing Metro

The Nanjing Metro is a rapid transit system serving the urban and suburban districts of Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu Province in the People's Republic of China. The system has ten lines and 159 stations running on 393.628 km (244.589 mi) of track. It is operated and maintained by the Nanjing Metro Group Company. The total length of the system ranks fourth in China, after Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. In 2017, the metro system carried a total of 977.4 million annual riders.Proposals for a metro system serving Nanjing first began in 1984, with approval by the State Planning Commission granted in 1994. Construction began on the initial 16-station Line 1 in 1999, and opened in 2005. Future expansion plans include three lines set to open within the next few years, with several more awaiting approval to begin construction.

Oregon Public Utility Commission

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the chief electric, gas and telephone utility regulatory agency of the government of the U.S. state of Oregon. It sets rates and establishes rules of operation for the state's investor-owned utility companies. With respect to publicly owned utility districts and cooperatives, its authority is limited to safety regulations.

The first regulation of a public utility was effected in 1874 when the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a law regulating rates and procedures for the gas distribution business of Al Zeiber in Portland. His primary contract was with the city for its gas street lamps. The agency, or its predecessors including the Public Service Commission, have been charged with a wide variety regulatory duties, encompassing industries as diverse as timber rafting to intrastate rail and bus service.

The present commission was reestablished in 1987 as a three-member panel, replacing the office of the Public Utility Commissioner, as a result of voters' passage of a statewide ballot measure in November 1986. The new panel's first three members, all appointed by Governor Neil Goldschmidt, were Charles Davis, who had already been serving as acting Commissioner since January 1987; State Senator Nancy Ryles and Paul G. Cook. Earlier, Davis had also been Oregon's Public Utility Commissioner under Gov. Robert W. Straub, from 1975–1979.A second major change occurred in 1995. State legislative action transferred the responsibility for regulating motor transportation and rail safety to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the public utility commission in Pennsylvania. It is composed of five commissioners, appointed by the Governor with the consent of the state Senate. The PUC oversees public utility and services operations in the commonwealth, in sectors including water, energy, and transportation.

State code requires separation of the five commissioners and an investigatory division. In 2012 the Commonwealth Court challenged PUC's jurisdiction over local ordinances.

Public Utility Building, Bangalore

The Public Utility Building (Also known as Subhash Chandra Bose Public Utility Building) is a skyscraper on Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bangalore, India. It is one of the tallest buildings and a major commercial center of Bangalore. It stands at 106 metres (348 ft). The architect of the building was Atul Sharma and the structural engineer was Kamal N Hadkar. The building is owned by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.

The Public Utility building with its 25 story is an all-in-one shopping complex that houses variety of business and commercial centers including offices, shops, boutiques, hotel, restaurants, theater and many more.

M G Road Aerial View as Seen from Public Utilities Building

Public Utility Commission of Texas

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) is a state agency that regulates the state’s electric, water and telecommunication utilities, implements respective legislation, and offers customer assistance in resolving consumer complaints.

In 1975, the Texas Legislature enacted the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) and created the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to provide statewide regulation of the rates and services of electric and telecommunications utilities. Roughly twenty years later, the combined effects of significant Texas legislation in 1995 and the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 resulted in competition in telecommunication’s wholesale and retail services and the creation of a competitive electric wholesale market. Further changes in the 1999 Texas Legislature not only called for a restructuring of the electric utility industry but also created new legislation that ensured the protection of customers’ rights in the new competitive environment. Over the years, these various changes have dramatically re-shaped the PUC’s mission and focus, shifting from up-front regulation of rates and services to oversight of competitive markets and compliance enforcement of statutes and rules. In 2013, the Texas Legislature added water utility regulation to the agency's responsibilities.

Since the introduction of competition in both the local and long distance telecommunications markets and the wholesale and retail electric markets, the PUC has also played an important role in overseeing the transition to competition and ensuring that customers receive the intended benefits of competition.

Appointed by the Texas Governor, the three-member commission also regulates the rates and services of transmission and distribution utilities that operate where there is competition, investor-owned electric utilities where competition has not been chosen, and incumbent local exchange companies that have not elected incentive regulation.

The PUC’s mission is to “protect customers, foster competition, and promote high quality infrastructure.”

The agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis State Office Building at 1701 North Congress in Austin. In 2011, the former commission chairman, Barry Smitherman resigned to become a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, under appointment from Governor Rick Perry.

Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935

The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA), also known as the Wheeler-Rayburn Act, was a law that was passed by the United States Congress to facilitate regulation of electric utilities, by either limiting their operations to a single state, and thus subjecting them to effective state regulation, or forcing divestitures so that each became a single integrated system serving a limited geographic area. Another purpose of PUHCA was to keep utility holding companies that were engaged in regulated businesses from engaging in unregulated businesses.

On August 8, 2005, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law, repealing PUHCA.

Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA, Pub.L. 95–617, 92 Stat. 3117, enacted November 9, 1978) is a United States Act passed as part of the National Energy Act. It was meant to promote energy conservation (reduce demand) and promote greater use of domestic energy and renewable energy (increase supply). The law was created in response to the 1973 energy crisis, and one year in advance of a second energy crisis.

Upon entering the White House, President Jimmy Carter made energy policy a top priority. The law started the energy industry on the road to restructuring.

Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program

The Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) was launched by the Department of Transportation of the Philippines in 2017, with the goal of making the country's public transportation system efficient and environmentally friendly by 2020. The program calls for the phasing-out jeepneys, buses and other Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) that are at least 15 years old and replacing them with safer, more comfortable and more environmentally-friendly alternatives over the next three years. Currently, there are 180,000 jeepney units operating throughout the country.Replacement vehicles are required to have at least a Euro 4-compliant engine or an electric engine to lessen pollution. Some proposed requirements include CCTV cameras, Panta Transportation Payment Terminal, speed limiters and GPS monitors.The Land Bank of the Philippines estimates that each jeepney replacement will cost around ₱1.4 million to ₱1.6 million. However, based on an interest rate of 6% per annum and a payment period of 7 years, the actual cost of a jeepney reaches ₱2.1 million.Some transport groups have criticized the program as "anti-poor". These groups have pointed out that under the program, most drivers and small-time operators would be unable to afford replacement units and corporate entities would seek to monopolize the market and impose fare hikes on commuters.

Public transport

Public transport (also known as public transportation, public transit, or mass transit) is transport of passengers by group travel systems available for use by the general public, typically managed on a schedule, operated on established routes, and that charge a posted fee for each trip. Examples of public transport include city buses, trolleybuses, trams (or light rail) and passenger trains, rapid transit (metro/subway/underground, etc.) and ferries. Public transport between cities is dominated by airlines, coaches, and intercity rail. High-speed rail networks are being developed in many parts of the world.

Most public transport systems run along fixed routes with set embarkation/disembarkation points to a prearranged timetable, with the most frequent services running to a headway (e.g.: "every 15 minutes" as opposed to being scheduled for any specific time of the day). However, most public transport trips include other modes of travel, such as passengers walking or catching bus services to access train stations. Share taxis offer on-demand services in many parts of the world, which may compete with fixed public transport lines, or compliment them, by bringing passengers to interchanges. Paratransit is sometimes used in areas of low demand and for people who need a door-to-door service.Urban public transit differs distinctly among Asia, North America, and Europe. In Asia, profit-driven, privately-owned and publicly traded mass transit and real estate conglomerates predominantly operate public transit systems In North America, municipal transit authorities most commonly run mass transit operations. In Europe, both state-owned and private companies predominantly operate mass transit systems, Public transport services can be profit-driven by use of pay-by-the-distance fares or funded by government subsidies in which flat rate fares are charged to each passenger. Services can be fully profitable through high usership numbers and high farebox recovery ratios, or can be regulated and possibly subsidised from local or national tax revenue. Fully subsidised, free of charge services operate in some towns and cities.

For geographical, historical and economic reasons, differences exist internationally regarding use and extent of public transport. While countries in the Old World tend to have extensive and frequent systems serving their old and dense cities, many cities of the New World have more sprawl and much less comprehensive public transport. The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. It has 3,400 members from 92 countries from all over the globe.

Public utilities commission

In the United States, a utilities commission, utility regulatory commission (URC), public utilities commission (PUC), or public service commission (PSC) is a governing body that regulates the rates and services of a public utility. In some cases, government bodies with the title "public service commission" may be civil service oversight bodies, rather than utilities regulators.

In Canada, a public utilities commission (PUC) is a public utility owned and operated by a municipal or local government under the oversight of one or more elected commissioners. It is not a regulatory body. Its role is analogous to a municipal utility district or public utility district in the US.

Saville Dam

Saville Dam is an earthen embankment dam with masonry work on the eastern branch of the Farmington River in southwestern Barkhamsted, Connecticut. The dam is 135 ft. (41 m) tall and 1,950 ft. (590 m) long and has an uncontrolled spillway on its western portion. It creates the Barkhamsted Reservoir which has a volume of 36.8 billion US gallons (139,000,000 m3) and is the primary water source for Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1927, the Metropolitan District Commission began to purchase land in the present-day footprint of the dam and reservoir. Construction of the dam commenced in 1936 while land to the north was being stripped of lumber and buildings.

Before the Metropolitan District Commission named the Saville Dam in 1940 in honor of its chief engineer, Caleb Mills Saville, it was referred to as the Bill's Brook Dam after the brook that ran near the site at the time.

The foundations for "Bill's Brook Dam" and the diversion tunnel for the East Branch of the Farmington River were completed in August 1934. Subsequently, the East Branch was diverted into the concrete conduit at the bottom of the Bill's Brook Dam site. The dam was completed in May 1940, at a total cost for dam and reservoir of $10M.Although the Saville Dam was completed in 1940, it was not until 1948 that the Barkhamsted Reservoir finally filled to capacity. The Farmington River East Branch is impounded for nearly 8 miles (13 km) behind the dam, with the northernmost open waters of Barkhamsted Reservoir terminating in Hartland, Connecticut just south of the Massachusetts border.The reservoir flooded many buildings and farms of Barkhamsted, including the village of Barkhamsted Hollow. The village of Barkhamsted Center, partially flooded, lies just to the west of the reservoir. Its remaining buildings are part of the Barkhamsted Center Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Vermont Public Utility Commission

The Vermont Public Utility Commission (formerly known as the Vermont Public Service Board) is a government agency of the State of Vermont that supervises the rates, quality of service, and overall financial management of public utilities in Vermont. Established under Title 30 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated, the Commission exercises quasi-judicial oversight of electric, natural gas, telecommunications, and private water companies. The Commission also serves as the franchising authority for cable television systems in Vermont. In addition, the Commission reviews environmental and economic impacts of proposals to purchase energy supply or build new energy facilities; monitors the safety of hydroelectric dams; evaluates the financial aspects of nuclear plant decommissioning and radioactive waste storage; reviews rates paid to independent power producers; and oversees the statewide Energy Efficiency Utility programs.

The Commission comprises a Chairman and two Commissioners, all of whom are nominated by the Vermont Judicial Nominating Board, appointed by the Governor of Vermont and confirmed by the Vermont Senate. The Chairman and Commissioners serve staggered six-year terms. The Commission's office is located at 112 State Street in Montpelier, Vermont.

The current Chairman is Anthony Z. Roisman (term expires 2023).

Current Commissioners are Margaret Cheney (term expires 2019) and Sarah D. Hofmann (term expires 2021).

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