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Public Utilities and Their Regulation

Public utilities are economic entities “vested with the public interest,” also known as “common calling enterprises.” “Vested with the public interest” is a centuries-old concept based on the common-law notion of “status,” a complex set of rights and responsibilities associated with the provision of services of public necessity. Those who engage in common calling enterprises are bound by status to provide goods and services in accord with the needs of the broader community.

Public utilities are defined by the necessity of the goods and services they provide and the inherent market power they possess. Public utility services are essential because of both what is provided, such as water or electricity, and the network system of delivery. Many public utilities are infrastructure organizations, entities that maintain the ...

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