By Charles C. Read and Marc T. Campopiano

The right to regulate subject to due process constraints is a foundation of public utility law. This article examines the extent to which a regulatory agency can restrict and ultimately terminate a utility’s operations based on public policy considerations. This issue has arisen in industries confronted with disruptive technological and regulatory change such as deregulation of wholesale natural gas pricing, termination of the vertical integration of electric utilities, broadcast television displacement by cable television, cable television displacement by satellite and internet video communications, and wire-line telephone displacement by wireless and internet communications. While these changes were disruptive at the time, they also presented new opportunities for utilities nimble enough to take advantage of them. None represented a regulator’s judgment that a utility should cease operations.

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