In 2001, The New England Council published a report on energy supply and demand in New England. Ten years later, in 2011, the Energy & Environment Committee decided to again publish a report on the energy market in New England, this time focusing specifically on the electric market and seeking to provide a more basic introduction to understanding the market. The resulting report, “State & Federal Rate Regulation of the Electric Power Industry: A History,” was published in this month.
The Council’s objective in preparing the report was to provide the reader with basic information on the methods by which electricity is generated, transmitted and ultimately distributed to the retail consumer; how the rates are determined for both wholesale and retail electricity sales; the philosophy behind the legislative enactments and regulatory processes that lead to our current system; and the division between state and federal regulation of the electric power industry. The goal of this report is to provide the reader – particularly one lacking a background in or pre-existing understanding of the industry – with a basic understanding of the industry from its birth through the end of the 20th century, including a basic description of its regulatory history.