The selection of public utility commissioners: A re-examination of the importance of institutional setting
The result of a great many studies is that it makes no difference to the rate level whether the public utility commission is appointed or elected. Nevertheless, the typical response to an inquiry regarding the effect of appointment versus election is that a difference in resulting rate structure should exist. In this paper we have reconciled these views and more carefully examined the issue of whether institutional setting does matter in the setting of regulated electricity prices. We suggest that one should not necessarily expect elected PUCs to behave differently than appointed ones. Instead different behavior should be expected from PUCs that are ‘closer’ to their constituents than those more isolated, irrespective of whether the PUC is elected or appointed. The results of an empirical examination based on a large sample of utilities operating during the period of 1981-83 support this view. The more narrowly defined is the consumer voter-group, everything else the same, the lower is the rate set by the PUC. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989
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