PURC Update

Fall 2009

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.


37th Annual PURC Conference

Join us as we explore the difficult issues that regulators, policymakers, industry, and consumers must confront to ensure that Florida and the nation continue to improve the availability and effectiveness of our energy, telecommunications, and water supplies. Register now for the 37th Annual PURC Conference at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville.

Find out more on our Annual Conference page.


Director's Take

Sometimes what we want to be true gets in our way of knowing what is true. Read more in Thinking Critically about Research," a column by PURC Director Mark Jamison.

For example, last year an association of physicists invited its members to engage in a debate concerning the International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) conclusion regarding man-made global warming. In inviting articles for its professional journal, the association said, "We will not publish articles that are political or polemical in nature. Stick to the science!"

Read more on Dr. Jamison's page, Director's Take.


Sandy's Selections

Dr. Sandy Berg has gathered new items of interest and posts these resources on his web page, Sandy's Selections.


Training Programs

PURC/World Bank International Training Program

Congratulations to the 70 graduates of the 26th PURC/World Bank Program in June. They represented 32 nations. "Key lessons from the Course," co-authored by the participants and Dr. Sandy Berg, are available on Sandy's Selections.

Since the program's inception in 1997, the number of utility regulators and managers who have graduated from the program totals 2,128. The 27th delivery of the PURC/World Bank International Training Program is scheduled January 11-22, 2010.

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

This PURC leadership workshop, scheduled January 23, 2010, will examine the activities, behaviors, mindsets and skills of a successful leader. Participants will learn to identify and build a leadership style that encourages collaboration and team cohesiveness.

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

PURC/ABAR Course

Thirty-seven infrastructure professionals from Brazil learned how to develop indicators for sector performance during the PURC/ABAR course, Regulatory Challenges of Electric Power Supply and Sanitation in Brasilia. PURC and the Brazilian regulatory association, Associação Brasileira de Agências de Regulação (ABAR), collaborated in the development of sessions addressing current issues facing Brazilian utilities and regulators.


Visiting Scholar

We are pleased to welcome Rui Marques from Portugal. Dr. Marques is an assistant professor at the Technical University of Lisbon. His research focuses on regulation, procurement and benchmarking. During his stay at PURC, Dr. Marques will work closely with Dr. Berg on a critical survey of water and electric utility benchmarking.

The PURC Visiting Scholars program offers academics the opportunity to continue their research in the university environment and collaborate with PURC faculty on topics of mutual interest. Many have published subsequent articles with acknowledgments of the support they received from PURC.

View all Visiting Scholars on our Content Leaders page.


Presentations

World Forum on Energy Regulation IV

In October, Energy regulators face many challenges in integrating new technologies and new environmental initiatives within the industry charged with meeting the energy needs of a growing world. There may be no better time for regulatory associations to take some time to invest in themselves, to better meet the challenges and opportunities of the future. At the World Forum on Energy Regulation IV (WFER IV) in Athens, Greece, PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury discussed the benefits of regulatory networks with an audience of energy regulators, practitioners, and media from around the world.

His presentation, "Capacity Building through Regulatory Networking" described many of the benefits and scale improvements available through regulatory networking, but also discussed the questions that regulators should ask to better realize these benefits. He concluded that the work done "up-front" by regulators will realize greater benefits for their associations in the future.

What are the important elements of training utility regulators for the future? That was the topic of Dr. Mark Jamison's presentation, entitled "Utility Regulation Today: A Nexus of Technical, Political, and Leadership Skills", presented at WFER IV. Speaking before an audience of 50 utility regulators and industry representatives from around the world, he emphasized the four essential skill areas involved in regulatory work, namely technical skills (such as accounting, law, and economics), political skills, management skills, and leadership skills. Technical issues comprise about 80 percent of the work of regulatory agencies, but they are ineffective if regulators are not also effective in working the human processes of regulation. Regulators need to think politically without being political. They also need to organize and strengthen their organizations.

Finally, they also need to influence change in the regulatory and policy system when appropriate by calling attention to conflicts between current practices and new realities, and helping people make the necessary changes. Read more on our news & events page.

Paris-Sorbonne University Symposium

Utility regulators face unique leadership challenges because of the special positions their agencies hold with government, according to Dr. Mark Jamison. Speaking to a symposium at the Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris IV), he explained that the independent nature of regulatory agencies means each stakeholder, such as politicians and service providers, must give something up in order for the regulatory system to function properly.

Even though as a group, stakeholders are better off with an effective regulatory agency, individual stakeholders may see themselves as gaining an advantage by challenging the agency's role. This means that formal institutional rules are not enough to make a regulatory institution strong. Personal leadership skills are needed as well, especially during times of change. The leadership skills required for regulators are different than those required for heads of companies or other government bodies, in that the regulator is not authorized to lead (as leading is reserved for politicians and other public leaders). So the regulator must be prepared to effectively influence the direction and dynamics of change without being the change manager. Read more on our news & events page.


The Gator Nation

PURC extends its congratulations to the PURC alumni who delivered excellent presentations at the recent annual conference of the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR), November 4-6, 2009, in Tobago.

Dr. Jamison attended the conference and was impressed with the quality of the presentations and with the advancements and innovations that have been made in Caribbean on regulatory issues. PURC alumni making presentations included Ms. Annie Baldeo, Mr. Eugene Cleland, Mr. Rowald Derrick, Mrs. Josette Maxwell-Dalsou, Mr. Zia Mian, Ms. Claire Moolchan, Mr. Justice Prem Persaud, Mrs. Rita Persaud-Kong, Mr. Cedric Wilson, and Ms. Ro Ann Wright.

More news from The Gator Nation can be found on our news & events page.

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PO Box 117150
Gainesville, FL 32611-7150
Phone: 352.392.2397
Fax: 352.392.2086

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