PURC Update

Spring 2012

Greetings! We bring you news from the Public Utility Research Center (PURC) at the University of Florida. Our electronic newsletter is designed to keep utility regulators, policymakers and infrastructure managers informed of our upcoming programs, research activities and news about colleagues and resources. We invite you to join our mailing list and receive our bulletins by email.

PURC Celebrates Its 40th Year

PURC commemorates its 40th anniversary this year. Since its founding in 1972, PURC has grown from a small group hosting one meeting each year to an internationally recognized research center offering expanded training and interdisciplinary development programs reaching thousands of professionals in the U.S. and abroad. Learn more about PURC.

Director's Take

What makes some people spectacularly unsuccessful? In "Why Smart Executives Fail," Finkelstein and Roth analyze why former high-flying companies like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco failed and found seven habits the senior executives had in common: (If you don't have time for the book, Eric Jackson provides an excellent summary in Forbes.)

  1. They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment.
  2. They blur personal and company interests.
  3. They think they have all the answers.
  4. They eliminate anyone who doesn't completely follow them.
  5. They are more obsessed with image than with results.
  6. They underestimate difficulties.
  7. They fail to let go of the things that worked in the past, but that now hold them back.

Read more in "Being Unsuccessful in Energy and Telecommunications" by PURC Director Dr. Mark Jamison.

Sandy's Selections

Dr. Sandy Berg, PURC director of Water Studies, directs your attention to three recent publications. Listed in 2012 Resources of Interest, the paper Urban Water and Sanitation Poverty in Tanzania" gives an overview of data collected through a recent Baseline Survey in Tanzania and makes recommendations for combating urban water and sanitation poverty.

In the 2011 Resource Archives, "Water Supply Networks and Pipelines" explains the hidden costs of intermittent supplies, and underlines the contribution well-maintained networks that allow losses to be minimized can make when there are pressures on resources. Finally, "Identifying the Potential for Results-Based Financing for Sanitation" is one in a series of knowledge products designed to showcase project findings, assessments, and lessons learned through WSP's Scaling Up Rural Sanitation initiative.

Read more at Sandy's Selections.

Upcoming Courses and Events

32nd PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy

June 11-22, 2012

The international training program is an intensive, two-week course specifically tailored to the professional requirements of utility regulators and regulatory staff. The course is designed to enhance the economic, technical, and policy skills required for implementing policies and managing sustainable regulatory systems for infrastructure sectors.

Since 1997, utility regulators, policymakers, and infrastructure managers around the world have traveled to Gainesville, Florida to participate in the program. They learn problem-solving techniques, and exchange ideas and experiences during an international forum for the dissemination of relevant best practices and research.

PURC Leadership Workshop - Practicing Leadership in a Political Environment: A One-Day Intensive Training Workshop for Emerging Leaders in Utility Policy

June 23, 2012

International regulatory professionals will examine the activities, behaviors, mindsets, and skills of a successful leader during this training workshop designed by PURC for emerging leaders in utility policy.

They will also consider the personal practices for successful leaders in developing vision, resolving conflicts, and setting priorities.

Workshop objectives include:

  • Discovering how to identify the key attributes of an organization.
  • Learning how executive leaders create an organizational focus and a creative tension around the most important priorities.
  • Developing an accountability system for addressing the most important challenges.
  • Creating a strategy for managing the relationships that are critical to success.
  • Identifying the current morale of one's workforce and learning intervention methods to create a truly great place to work.
  • Receiving feedback from trusted colleagues in order to develop skills for managing oneself and others.
2012 PURC Advanced International Practices Program:
Energy Pricing

July 29 - Aug. 3, 2012

What are the challenges and best practices in energy pricing? What are the innovative ideas for addressing efficiency and environmental issues? This PURC course answers these questions as participants learn core principles and engage in a case study in energy pricing from start to finish.

Benchmarking Infrastructure Operations

Aug. 6 - 9, 2012

How can utilities be benchmarked for efficiency? Which types of comparisons are valid and which are invalid, possibly leading to significant errors? This PURC course answers these questions as participants analyze the benefits, best practices, and pitfalls of benchmarking utilities.

Telecom Policy and Regulation for Next Generation Networks

Aug. 6 - 9, 2012

Which policies and regulations should be in place for an efficient transition to next generation networks (NGN)? What is essential for ensuring that countries achieve their important policy goals while facilitating the rapid advancement of technology? This PURC course answers these questions as participants examine the foundations, drivers, and policy priorities for NGN.

Recent Training Programs and Events

39th Annual PURC Conference - Utility Policy Today: Do We Have Strategies or Just Tactics

As PURC enters its 40th year of serving Florida, utility regulation remains a controversial and complex topic. This year's conference (February 15-16) addressed key issues facing utilities, their regulators, and their customers.

The 39th Annual PURC Conference explored whether the goals of regulators and executives are fundamentally consistent and whether achieving them is actually feasible. Speakers examined the extent to which public policy ignores trade-offs among legitimate objectives. Sessions explored how decision-makers who determine infrastructure performance can design strategies and develop coherent tactics that lead to outcomes citizens desire.

The next Annual PURC Conference is scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 12-13, 2013. Registration opens Nov. 1, 2012.

31st PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy

Congratulations to the graduates of the 31st delivery of the PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy. In January 2012, 66 participants from 22 nations came to enhance their economic, technical, and policy skills. Key lessons, co-authored by the participants and Dr. Sandy Berg, are available online. The 32nd delivery of this training program is scheduled for June 11-22, 2012.

Energy Training for the Bermuda Department of Energy

When assessing the costs necessary to provide safe, reliable electric service at reasonable rates, there are many cost recovery standards that regulators employ. Applying the standards of known-and-measurable, used-and-useful, and prudency can be complicated. Fortunately, the regulator may have many data sources available for these costs, such as audited financial statements and cost of service studies. Unfortunately, no single data source is useful for assessing every standard.

PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury and PURC Senior Fellow Raj Barua worked with commissioners and staff of the Bermuda Department of Energy in Hamilton to address the different sources of information available to regulators when conducting price reviews, and how these sources can be used to assess the costs necessary to provide service.

PURC Addresses Electricity Sector Performance in Iraq

With the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq, efforts to improve infrastructure have been stepped up. As part of its International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. State Department sponsored a five-member delegation from the Iraq Energy Ministry for a meeting at the University of Florida, organized by PURC. The delegation explored how to address the numerous challenges facing their electricity system including ways to alleviate electricity capacity shortages and how governance and incentives could improve sector performance in different regions of their country.

PURC In the News

Big Disparities in Utility Rates May Stunt Florida's Economic Growth

Tampa Bay Times
Feb. 26, 2012

The Tampa Bay Times mentioned a report issued by PURC concluding that electricity costs in Florida "appear to be higher on average than costs in neighboring states."

Energy in America: Is There an Alternative to Power Lines?

Fox News
Nov. 9, 2011

Fox News asked PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury whether underground power lines would be more effective than overhead lines. The age-old debate began anew as a result of power outages due to an October snow storm in the Northeast.

Find more PURC In the News items.


National Electricity Forum

Presentations and feedback helped attendees at the 2012 National Electricity Forum explore the balance between regulation and market structures to incentivize and facilitate the development of a flexible, environmentally benign, and cost-effective electricity system.

Florida Public Utilities Professor and PURC Director of Water Studies Dr. Sanford Berg spoke on the theme of this year's forum, Visualizing the 21st Century Electricity Industry, as one of the panelists in the concluding session on Institutional Solutions.

American Economic Association Panel Presentation

Audience members listened as PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury presented his paper, "The Price Effects of Independent System Operators in the United States Electricity Market."

The paper assesses whether regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) have had any impact on the price of electricity in the U.S. Mr. Kury delivered his presentation as a member of a panel sponsored by the American Economic Association during the Allied Social Science Association's annual meeting in Chicago. Papers and Proceedings of the annual meeting will be published in the May issue of the American Economic Review.

African Water Academy Presentations

The National Water and Sewerage Company of Uganda is one of the best performing utilities in Africa. Its new training center in Kampala is home to the African Water Academy, and is where PURC Director of Water Studies Dr. Sanford Berg delivered several presentations.

He discussed key communications lessons from the PURC/World Bank International Training Program at the African Water Association Workshop on Utility Communication. In addition, he delivered a presentation on transformational leadership at the International Water Association/African Water Association (IWA/AfWA) Leadership and Change Management Summit, and he participated in a panel on the determinants of utility performance.

9th Annual OOCUR Conference Presentation

The implementation of renewable energy sources for electricity generation involves many characteristics of these resources. While cost is the characteristic most often cited, it is important to consider other characteristics as well. Price is an important dimension of service, but reliability and security of supply are dimensions as well.

At the 9th Annual Conference for the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) in Barbados, PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury discussed his paper, "The Role of Renewable Energy Resources in the Capacity Markets of Island Electric Systems." He explained his model of the impacts of these intermittent resources on the reliability of electric service, and on the role of renewable energy resources as a hedge against uncertainty in the oil markets.

2011 Critical Consumer Issues Forum

How should regulators and policymakers protect consumers from the rising costs of electricity? They shouldn't, according to PURC Director Dr. Mark Jamison. Keynoting the Critical Consumer Issues Forum (CCIF) in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Jamison explained that utility costs are increasing because of new environmental regulations, cybersecurity mandates, replacement of aging infrastructure, and natural disasters to name a few.

2011 SMMPA Annual Meeting

Energy policy in the United States always seems to be "the next thing" that the government will address, without ever actually addressing it. At the Annual Meeting of the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury discussed the important energy issues facing utilities and consumers today. He also talked about how the government's inability or unwillingness to address issues related to the pricing of CO2, nuclear energy, natural gas, and consumer pricing reform, costs consumers and utilities money.

Workshop for Performance in Network Industries

When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission began the restructuring of the U.S. electricity market in 1996, it envisioned "more efficient, lower cost power to the nation's electricity consumers." Fifteen years later, the question of whether this restructuring has had the desired result is still open. PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury discussed his paper, "Price Effects of Independent Transmission System Operators in the U.S. Electricity Market" at the Florence School of Regulation's Workshop for Performance in Network Industries.

Find more presentations on the content leaders page.

TPRC 40th Research Conference on Communication, Information, and Internet Policy

PURC would like to congratulate TPRC for 40 years of promoting policy-relevant research in telecommunications. PURC and TPRC began their lives in the same year with similar missions, namely to bring rigorous analysis to bear on issues facing critical infrastructure industries. It is with great pride that we at PURC have a long-standing relationship with TPRC, having contributed many papers over the years and having provided financial support.

TPRC has issued its Call for Papers for its 40th anniversary of the conference, and PURC encourages you to submit papers. TPRC is an annual conference on communication, information, and Internet policy that convenes international and interdisciplinary researchers and policy makers from academia, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations.

TPRC is now soliciting abstracts of papers, proposals for panels, tutorials and demonstrations, and student papers for presentation at the 2012 conference, to be held September 21-23, 2012 at the George Mason University Law School, in Arlington, Virginia. These presentations should report current theoretical or empirical research relevant to communication and information policy.

Submission opens on March 1, 2012. The deadlines are as follows:

  • March 31, 2012: Main conference abstracts and proposals for panels, tutorials, and demonstrations. Acceptances/rejections will be provided by May 31, 2012. Complete papers for accepted abstracts will be due to TPRC on August 15, 2012.
  • April 30, 2012: Student papers. The student paper competition requires submission of completed papers rather than abstracts. Acceptances/rejections will be provided by June 30, 2012.

The journals Telecommunications Policy and Journal of Information Policy will both invite papers for special issues from this year's conference. Please email (info at tprc.org) inquiries.

Find out more at the TPRC site.


College Info

Warrington College of Business
BRY 100
PO Box 117150
Gainesville, FL 32611-7150
Phone: 352.392.2397
Fax: 352.392.2086

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