PURC Update

Summer 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.


Director's Take

A commissioner recently asked how much research costs. That's a good question. Over the past few years, less than a fourth of PURC's research was sponsored by someone, which means PURC faculty spend a lot of uncompensated time pursuing ideas. Why would someone invest so much time writing papers that no one requested, and that require extensive effort to get published?

Frankly, research is simply in some people's DNA. We academics are unlikely to use our time in airport terminals editing a legal brief or organizing a project.

We will be found, however, trying to flesh out an idea, testing the validity of received wisdom, or teasing out insights that might be as obscure-sounding as which lessons from radio spectrum auctions apply to carbon-emission cap and trade schemes. When analyzing problems and writing, we feel a rush - we "get in the zone" - just as anyone who enjoys their work.

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


Sandy's Selections

Dr. Sandy Berg has been surfing the internet for items of interest and posts these resources on his web page, Sandy's Selections.


Training Programs

2009 PURC/OOCUR Advanced Course

Twenty-four infrastructure professionals from 12 nations learned to prepare for and perform price reviews, and develop economic incentives appropriate for utilities in small economies during the 2009 PURC/OOCUR Advanced Course: Advanced Methods in Regulatory Pricing and Industry Analysis. The week-long program utilized case studies, exercises, and presentations as participants shared their expertise while learning how to evaluate market competition and develop remedies for market failure, analyze financial statements for rate setting and evaluating sector performance, and create and evaluate benchmarking systems. In addition, they implemented local number portability schemes and evaluated merger proposals. They also developed innovative price structures, and formulated policies for increasing broadband penetration.

More information can be found on our Specialized Courses page.

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

Congratulations to the 79 graduates of the 25th PURC/World Bank Program in January. They represented 33 nations. Key lessons from the course, co-authored by the participants and Dr. Berg, are available on Sandy's Selections. The 26th delivery of the PURC/World Bank International Training Program is scheduled June 8-19, 2009.

Since the program's inception in 1997, the number of utility regulators and managers who have graduated from the program totals 2,058.

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

This PURC leadership workshop, scheduled June 20, 2009, 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.

Providing Leadership in Utility Policy

Utility commissioners from the United States at the PURC/CLA leadership seminar preceding the NARUC Winter meeting in Washington, D.C. examined the leadership skills and frameworks needed to help the country confront issues, make difficult trade-offs, formulate policy changes where appropriate, and make attitude and behavioral changes when policy change is not enough.

In the context of the substantive discussion of difficult and controversial issues, participants explored leadership questions and discovered new tools, resources and paradigms to face what many see as insurmountable challenges.


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

Congress of the Association of Brazilian Regulators

Regulatory networking promotes the sharing of ideas and experiences across regulatory jurisdictions. More than 500 regulators and infrastructure executives from Brazil and nine other nations attended the 6th Annual Congress of the Association of Brazilian Regulators (ABAR) in May where Dr. Sandy Berg gave two talks.

He served on the Plenary Roundtable on International Experiences in Regulation, where he described, "U.S. Infrastructure Regulation: Legal Structures for Reducing Conflict." In addition, he presented a technical paper, "Bolivian Utility Regulation: Lessons for a Water Sector Agency," (with co-author Claudia Vargas). PURC Senior Fellow, Dennis Mahar, also participated in the sessions and translated Berg's plenary address into Portuguese for attendees. PURC Visiting Scholar, Rui Marques, also presented technical papers at the event. Many alumni from the PURC/World Bank International Training Program were in attendance. The technical papers, photo gallery and presentation summaries are available on ABAR's website.

Internationalization of Infrastructure

Does utility internationalization mean that we need to internationalize regulation? That was the question addressed by Dr. Jamison in his keynote address at the conference, Internationalization of Infrastructures, at Delft University of Technology in May.

To answer the question, he explained to the 100 attendees that internationalization of utilities involves physical networks, logical networks, financial interconnections, policy spillovers, and geopolitics. In comparing this pattern of cross-country effects of infrastructure to the traditional purposes and designs of regulatory agencies, Dr. Jamison concluded that current institutions appear to be appropriate for the task. He suggested, though, that research is needed on organizational learning, adaptation, and leadership in regulation so that regulators and stakeholders can effectively address changed circumstances when needed.

Coherence between Institutions and Technologies

Changing utility technologies, such as the adoption of smart grid technologies, means that regulatory and business organizations will have to change, according to Dr. Jamison in his remarks at the workshop, Exploring the Coherence between Institutions and Technologies in Liberalized Infrastructures, at Delft University of Technology.

Commenting on research at Delft about how mismatches between the boundaries of regulation and the boundaries of industry can hurt performance, he explained U.S. experiences in which changes in regulation resulted in technology surprises that erased long held assumptions about the ways in which utility technologies should work. Dr. Jamison emphasized the need for experimentation before undertaking large regulatory changes to the 50 telecommunications professionals in attendance.

Energy Risk USA

"May you live in interesting times" is often attributed as the "Chinese Curse," despite the fact that it can't be traced back to China, and may not even be a curse. "Interesting times" may impose challenges, but may also offer opportunity.

Financing major utility infrastructure projects during turbulent times in the capital markets may be a challenge, but state policies like those in Florida may offer a solution. PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury spoke with delegates in May at Energy Risk USA in Houston about his upcoming paper with PURC Policy Analyst Dr. Lynne Holt about the role of state policies and utility infrastructure development.

Find more presentations on the content leaders 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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