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.
Partnership with Brazilian Regulators
PURC is pleased to announce an activities partnership with the Brazilian regulatory association, Associação Brasileira de Agências de Regulação (ABAR). The partnership was formed to facilitate activities and initiatives that strengthen regulatory capacity and support research on infrastructure performance.
Find more news on our news & events page.
Are utility commissions a fourth branch of government, similar in standing to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches? Some people think so. One such person is Frank Vibert, who in his book, The Rise of the Unelected, argues that expert agencies provide a new kind of check and balance, and so constitute a fourth branch of government. Read more in this new column by PURC Director Mark Jamison. Its link also appears under Faculty and Associates.
Read more on Dr. Jamison's page, Director's Take.
Congratulations to the 70 graduates of the 23rd PURC/World Bank Program in January. They represented 30 different nations. "Lessons from the Course," co-authored by the participants and Dr. Berg, as well as photos are available online. Since the program's inception in 1997, the number of utility regulators and managers who have graduated from the program totals 1,880. The 24th delivery of the PURC/World Bank International Training Program is scheduled June 9-20, 2008.
Portugal: The basics of economic issues in telecommunications regulation were the focus of a two-week workshop in March for regulatory professionals at ANACOM, the telecommunications regulatory agency for Portugal. The participants engaged in case studies and simulations on interconnection arrangements, assessing market competition, functional separations, and stakeholder processes. They also studied how network economics affect market development and competition, the basics of radio spectrum management, essential features of spectrum auctions, the essentials for conducting cost studies in telecommunications, policies for broadband development, and EU policies for universal service, competition, and interconnection. Assisting Dr. Jamison, and Dr. Berg, in the delivery of this course was José Luis Gómez Barroso, an assistant professor at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) Dpto. Economía in Madrid, Spain (and former PURC Visiting Scholar).
Research Papers Presented
Use our new search engine to locate PURC working papers and publications, including:
"Getting What You Pay For: Analyzing the Net Neutrality Debate"
What happens if ISPs are allowed to charge Web sites for higher quality delivery of content? The amount and diversity of content grows. That's the conclusion of a recent study by PURC Director Dr. Mark Jamison and PURC Research Associate Dr. Janice Hauge. Dr. Jamison presented this paper in March at the European Communications Policy Research (EuroCPR) Conference in Seville, Spain, and will do so in June at the International Telecommunications Society conference in Montreal, Canada.
"Water Utility Benchmarking for Managerial and Policy Decisions: Lessons from Developing Countries"
Utility operations can only manage what they measure, so information on productivity trends and relative performance is important for both utility managers and regulators. Drawing from the recent PURC/Inter-American Development Bank study of Central American water utilities, this paper identifies ten lessons from utility managers. PURC Director of Water Studies, Dr. Sanford Berg, presented this paper to more than 100 water specialists at the International Water Association Pi08 Conference on Performance Assessment of Urban Infrastructure Services (March 12-14). It has been published in the book, Performance Assessment of Urban Infrastructure Services: Drinking Water, Wastewater, and Solid Waste by IWA Publishing (2008).
Find more on Water Initiatives.
"Water Utility Performance in Central America: The Political Economy of Coverage, Quality and Cost"
This paper describes four sources of conflict in the design and implementation of water policies: authority conflicts (reflecting jurisdictional disputes over who has the last word), cognitive conflicts (based on technical disagreements regarding the analysis and interpretation of performance data), values conflicts (involving ideological differences or differential preferences for sector outcomes), and interest conflicts (where different groups—utilities, customers, unserved citizens, regions, and unions—benefit or lose, depending on the decision). Using data and experience from Central America, Dr. Berg suggests strategies that might be adopted to promote conflict resolution and improve water sector performance in the region. He presented this paper at the Center for International Relations and Development Studies (CIDOB) in Barcelona. The center hosted the conference, "Universal Service Obligations and Regulatory Regimes: the Latin American Experience" March 6-7. (CIDOB will publish a book based on the presentations.)
Water professionals from the Bulgarian State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission learned about building the block tariff, vulnerable customer protections, service quality indicators, international best practice, and information requirements for benchmarking during workshop sessions in Sofia taught by Dr. Sanford Berg. He participated as part of PURC's collaboration with law firm Pierce Atwood. Its training workshops were designed to review the specific legal and regulatory framework in Bulgaria, and to build consensus around proposed revisions.
Resources of interest
Dr. Berg calls to your attention a report by the Independent Evaluation Group, The Welfare Impact of Rural Electrification: A Reassessment of the Costs and Benefits.
Another helpful resource on the power sector is the report, Reforming Power Markets in Developing Countries: What Have We Learned? by John E. Besant-Jones. The paper is a sourcebook of some 240 references that study international experiences in power market reforms. The author will be a featured presenter at the 24th PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy in June.
The Gator Nation
Congratulations to Dr. David E. M. Sappington, director of the Robert F. Lanzillotti Public Policy Research Center at the University of Florida who has been named president of the Industrial Organization Society. Dr. Sappington is a frequent speaker at the PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy.
More news from The Gator Nation can be found on our news & events page.