Vanderbilt Law Review


Jim Rossi

First Page



People like young Montray Cadet and his family will increasingly face the possibility of shut-off and limited access to utility services, such as telecommunications, natural gas, and electricity, as these industries-traditionally subject to obligations to serve customers-are deregulated. Already, the natural gas industry's introduction of retail competition in states like New York has been alleged to adversely affect the quality of and access to gas, essential to many New Yorkers for heating, and has led to the filing of a lawsuit against the state by consumer advocates.

Can vigorous retail competition of the type public utility deregulation envisions coexist with extraordinary obligations to serve customers? If so, at what costs? Who will bear these costs? These questions are central to an emerging law and economic analysis known as the "jurisprudence of network industries," which is of paramount importance as regulators and courts implement competition in traditional public utility industries. Yet, to date there has been little analysis of how customer service obligations in public utility law will be affected at the dawn of the new competitive era brought about by deregulation.

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