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Public Utilities and Their Regulation

Access to energy and other services provided by public utilities has always raised significant ethical concerns. At their core, these concerns involve ensuring access to the necessary services the utility provides. Public utilities can include water, telephone service, electricity, and natural gas. A public utility is public in the sense that the business provides what is deemed an everyday necessity to the general public.

Despite their name, public utilities can be publicly or privately owned, with most being operated privately. A utility that is owned privately is called an investor-owned utility. Public utilities can also be owned by municipalities or a state or federal government. The Tennessee Valley Authority, for example, is a federally owned corporation that is the largest public power utility in the ...

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