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.
A knowing chuckle spread across the room of utility executives and senior managers. A show of hands revealed that one fourth will retire within five years and about half in 10 years. That magnitude of loss was true from the company managers all the way down to the craft workers.
Everyone agreed that this was a problem. Was it a technical problem that could be solved through changing hiring practices and implementing training programs? Or was it an adaptive challenge where employees and the company would have to make hard decisions about what they valued most?
Aging workforce is a well-known problem for utilities, as it is for other industries. When utilities expanded in the 1960s and 1970s, they hired a large number of people that were just entering the workforce and these employees, many of whom have now worked for the same company for 30 years, are nearing retirement. Some people worry that when these employees go, a lot of knowledge, wisdom, and loyalty goes with them. Others are happy to see the older generation go.
Read more in "Outdated or Wise? Innovative or Naive?" by PURC Director Dr. Mark A. Jamison and Araceli Castañeda.
Dr. Sandy Berg, PURC Director of Water Studies, directs your attention to the paper "Emerging PPP Trends in the Water & Sanitation Sector" from Building Partnerships for Development in Water and Sanitation. This paper presents an overview of emerging shifts in approaches to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the water and sanitation sector.
Based on interviews with 21 professionals who are actively involved in the field, the analysis focused on four areas: contracts, regulation, finance, and stakeholder engagement. While there are obvious limitations to using interviews as a methodology, the aim was to determine experts' perceptions of where the trends in PPPs are headed.
Read more at Sandy's Selections.
PURC Offers Modeling Support for U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Coalitions
Clean Cities is the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) flagship alternative-transportation initiative. Clean Cities builds partnerships with local and statewide organizations in the public and private sectors to help consumers and vehicle fleets reduce their petroleum use and minimize emissions. More than 8,400 stakeholders contribute to Clean Cities' goals through participation in nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions across the country.
PURC is offering Clean Cities coalitions a unique computer modeling service. The service models the impacts of replacing gas-powered personal and service vehicles with all-electric and electric hybrid cars and trucks. More than 8,400 stakeholders contribute to Clean Cities' goals through participation in nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions across the country.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits for air pollutants and is developing a list of areas in the U.S. that are not within the set standards.These communities must submit plans to the EPA for reducing emissions to acceptable levels.
Computer-generated modeling can assist by determining the number of alternative fuel vehicles needed to replace gas-powered vehicles, bringing an area into compliance with EPA limits and making communities cleaner and healthier places to live.
PURC's modeling service is helpful for submitting a grant application for U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory Clean Cities Community Readiness and Planning for Plug-in Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure Funding Opportunity Number: DE-FOA-0000451.
Read more on our Energy Initiatives page.
PURC Offers New Advanced Courses in Energy, Benchmarking, and Telecom
PURC introduces the PURC Advanced International Practices Program, beginning July 31, 2011. The program's three new courses – Energy Pricing, Benchmarking Infrastructure Operations, and Measuring Telecom Provider Costs – are designed to provide experienced utility professionals with a comprehensive understanding of the technical matters of infrastructure policy.
The new program has been developed in consultation with faculty and alumni of the PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy. Program participants will engage in case studies, use computer models, and hear presentations by PURC faculty and other infrastructure experts. The courses emphasize practical lessons and new techniques for addressing the most pressing pricing, market, and process issues.
Recent Training Programs and Events
Congratulations to the graduates of the 30th delivery of the PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy. In June 2011, 99 participants from 39 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 31st delivery of this training program is scheduled for January 9-20, 2012.
PURC Collaborations in Peru
PURC has worked closely with universities and regulatory commissions in Peru for more than a decade, providing onsite training for water regulators (1999), and collaborating with Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) to develop the Body of Knowledge on Infrastructure Regulation. Dr. Berg was invited to speak at several May events in Lima where he met with both regulators and academics to discuss areas of mutual interest. He also presented "Fundamentals of Regulatory Systems: Lessons from the Global Experience" at PUCP on May 16 and gave the keynote address "Promoting Efficient and Effective Regulatory Institutions" at the OSINERGMIN and PUCP International Seminar, Measures to Ensure the Autonomy of Regulatory Organisms on May 18-19.
Utility Conference in Curacao
Sometimes the things we hold onto most dearly are the things that hold us back. This was the message that Dr. Jamison conveyed in his keynote address presented in May at the ASUC and Kolaborativa Symposium in Curacao, A Regulatory Framework: Making It Good for Everybody. Describing the linkage between the purposes and problems of utility regulation, Dr. Jamison explained that there are five key features of successful utility regulation: (1) An independent agency that is at arm's length from politics and stakeholders; (2) An accountable agency that is constrained by laws, transparency, and review by an independent judiciary; (3) An expert agency staffed by educated and well-trained professionals; (4) An organized governance system that aligns authority, accountability, and communications for the public, policy makers, regulators, operators, and judiciary; and (5) An organized industry whose structure and markets line up with system size and institutional endowments. Even though these features have been well known and practiced for years, many countries fail to implement them because stakeholders are often unwilling to give up their old ways, such as using politics to pursue self interest, micromanaging utilities, and behaving opportunistically to build economic or political power. The event was organized by ASUC (an association of electric utility labor unions) and Kolaborativo (a commerce, union, and government initiative for social dialogue). About 75 government, union, and industry officials from Curacao and Aruba attended. The presentation that accompanies the keynote address is "Developing Regulatory Institutions: A Leadership Perspective."
9th Annual International Industrial Organization Conference
In April, PURC Director of Energy Studies Ted Kury presented "Price Effects of Independent System Operators in the United States Electricity Market" at the 9th Annual International Industrial Organization Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.
Economic Regulatory Conference in India
Why does policy implementation seem to go the wrong way? How can we adapt regulation when circumstances change? These were the issues addressed by Dr. Jamison at the 2nd CUTS-CIRC International Conference, Reviewing the Global Experience on Economic Regulation - A Forward Looking Perspective in New Delhi, India in April. Speaking before an audience of 50 international experts on competition policy and regulation, Dr. Jamison explained that stakeholder involvement changes between the steps of policy formulation and policy implementation, resulting in a change in perspectives and priorities. Once policies are written into laws, governmental agencies begin playing a bigger role, new interest groups form because of the new rent seeking possibilities, and other stakeholders change their perspectives because of the new environment. As a result, sometimes policymakers have trouble recognizing the policies they wrote once the policies are implemented. The conference was sponsored by CUTS International and CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC). The audience consisted mainly of government officials, followed by think-tank professionals and academicians, and the remainder were consultants. The presentation that accompanies the seminar is "Can we get this right? Power, Influence, and Motivations for Coherence."
Regional Water Strategy Meeting in Orlando
What is the "missing link" between water management districts in Florida and utility delivery systems? Dr. Berg spoke to members of the Regional Water Strategy Steering Committee meeting on March 21 in Orlando. He shared his perspectives on the role of economics in water policy in the presentation, "Water Management Systems and Utility Delivery Systems: The Missing Link." The committee was created by the Congress of Regional Leaders to develop programs to meet growth in the demand for water in seven central Florida counties. More than 1,000 stakeholders have been involved in this process "to avoid litigation and ensure an economically and environmentally sustainable water supply." Dr. Berg's observations emphasized how the group might address different types of conflicts in the region.
Find more presentations on the content leaders page.
New PURC Senior Research Associate
We are pleased to welcome José Luis Gómez-Barroso as a new PURC Senior Research Associate. Dr. Gómez-Barroso is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Economic History at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) in Madrid, Spain.
View all research associates on our content leaders page.
We are pleased to announce that PURC Policy Analyst Dr. Lynne Holt has been promoted to Associate In the Department of Economics in the UF Warrington College of Business Administration. Congratulations Dr. Holt!
The Gator Nation
In Memory of Jim Taggart
February 3, 1937 – April 7, 2011
Jim left a legacy at the University of Florida that few can match. He helped launch and then nurtured PURC. During his involvement with PURC, he shaped it to stand for rigorous research and education that treated everyone fairly, regardless of their politics or background. That work helped Florida's utility companies and regulatory agency through many tough economic times. Jim's legacy of integrity has continued with the center and has now reached out to more than 2,500 people from 146 countries who have attended the center's courses on utility regulation. Many people around the world enjoy better lives because of Jim's vision and dedication.
UF Student Finds Success
UF graduate and former PURC student assistant Elizabeth Rojas recently served as a Florida Gubernatorial Fellow working for the Division of Emergency Management Statewide Strategic Plan for Persons with Disabilities during Disasters.
In May, she received an award from the Hoffman Foundation to extend her fellowship for an additional six months and is currently working for Governor Rick Scott as a liaison between the state and federal government.
While at UF, Rojas was a student assistant in the PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy and said the experience was invaluable. Dr. Jamison served as her thesis mentor, and they worked together on an econometric model to test the impact of federal policies on the U.S. ethanol industry.
"Dr. Jamison was an exceptional mentor and helped me throughout this difficult process," said Rojas. "I was completing my fellowship in Tallahassee while I was writing my thesis, so it took a lot of effort from Dr. J to communicate with me to get this accomplished."
Rojas graduated from UF summa cum laude in economics in April 2011, completing a double major in economics and political science with a minor in Latin American studies. She wants to pursue a job in public policy or as a campaign aide and is considering studying for an MBA at Georgetown University.