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The bird in hand: stipulated settlements and electricity regulation in Florida

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  • Littlechild, S.

Abstract

In the last two decades many major regulatory issues in Florida have been resolved by means of stipulated settlements between the utilities and interested parties, notably the Office of Public Counsel, instead of by the traditional method of hearings and litigation before the Public Services Commission. This paper investigates the extent, nature and effects of these stipulations in the electricity sector there. They have now largely superceded the litigated process. Their purpose is not to save costs, which are orders of magnitude less than the revenues at stake. Stipulations have brought reductions in electricity revenues worth over $3 billion, mainly during the last decade. These reductions are greater than would have otherwise occurred: about three quarters might never have occurred at all. In some cases a change in the method of rate reduction favoured industrial consumers but other customers are nonetheless likely to have benefited despite this. Some benefits were outside the scope of the commission to confer. Other benefits reflected a more flexible accounting policy. Most importantly, there has been a shift from conventional rate of return regulation, and from earnings sharing schemes with profits caps, to prices fixed for specified periods of time with revenue-sharing incentive arrangements. Stipulations have transformed the regulatory landscape in the Florida electricity sector, and their use seems worth considering elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

  • Littlechild, S., 2007. "The bird in hand: stipulated settlements and electricity regulation in Florida," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0713, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0713
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Doucet, Joseph & Littlechild, Stephen, 2006. "Negotiated settlements: The development of legal and economic thinking," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 266-277, December.
    2. Doucet, Joseph & Littlechild, Stephen, 2009. "Negotiated settlements and the National Energy Board in Canada," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4633-4644, November.
    3. Zhongmin Wang, 2004. "Settling Utility Rate Cases: An Alternative Ratemaking Procedure," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 141-163, September.
    4. Guy Holburn & Richard Bergh, 2006. "Consumer capture of regulatory institutions: The creation of public utility consumer advocates in the United States," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 45-73, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stern, Jon, 2012. "Developing upstream competition in the England and Wales water supply industry: A new approach," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 1-16.
    2. Littlechild, Stephen, 2009. "The bird in hand: Stipulated settlements in the Florida electricity sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3-4), pages 276-287, September.
    3. Stephen Littlechild, 2009. "Stipulated settlements, the consumer advocate and utility regulation in Florida," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 96-109, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    stipulations; settlements; consumer advocate; regulation.;

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L97 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Utilities: General
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities

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