A utility company is a company that maintains the public utility infrastructure for a particular public service. Public utilities, like water, sewer, electricity, gas, and cable TV, are subject to various forms of local, state, and federal regulation ranging from neighborhood-based organizations to statewide free-for-all monopolies. In addition to regulation by political bodies or public authority, these companies must also comply with regulations governing their operations, as well as those of the utility companies they provide service to. Despite its many complexities, at its core, it remains a system of checks and balances. This article examines just one such check, which deals with utility company integrity.
An honest utility company will not allow a competitor to use its pipelines, or charge excessive fees in connection with natural disasters or emergencies. When a major crisis occurs, such as a gas leak, or even when major transmission lines are disabled, a utility company should be able to provide effective emergency services. The reliability of a provider can also be assessed through the frequency of its outages. Even if a utility company has numerous outages in a short period of time, it should be able to provide services during all phases of a crisis. Finally, if it cannot or does not provide access to utilities in a disaster-struck area, it is likely that the public will suffer without those utilities.
One of the most troubling issues concerning natural gas and electricity deregulation is the possibility that, due to the increased competition among suppliers, the customer may not receive adequate services. According to deregulation opponents, this could lead to an increase in rates, which would put the public at risk. For instance, if a utility company that is highly regulated finds it profitable to decrease the amount of natural gas and electricity it sells to customers in order to lure new business, the resulting loss of services would force ratepayers to pay more. In addition, deregulation allows suppliers of both utilities to deregulated electricity and gas. This means that natural gas and electricity deregulation may result in higher prices for customers.
Unfortunately, the reliability of electricians during a crisis may also be threatened by deregulation. If a new electric utility company begins selling electricity to customers without verifying the qualifications of its current employees, the public could face disastrous consequences. After all, if an electric utility company sells electricity to someone without verifying the validity of its workers, a serious safety issue could arise. Customers could face disaster scenarios such as overloaded homes, blackouts, or injuries caused by electrical cords lying in the street.
Another concern for both consumers and utility companies is the possibility of energy suppliers selling excessive amounts of electricity to customers. During a crisis, natural gas and electricity providers may be tempting to increase the amount they sell to customers. However, if their suppliers do so, the utility company that provides these services will be unable to deliver services when there is a power outage. In addition, when energy suppliers to increase the amount that they sell to customers, they may increase their operational costs, which means that they will have less money to give to their customers in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.
As you can see, the future of natural gas and electricity deregulation looks grim. Some analysts predict that over the next two to five years, no utility companies will be able to survive without providing local customers with all of the energy that they currently provide. If you are currently a customer of a utility company, you should become very familiar with the regulations governing natural gas and electricity suppliers. You should also keep tabs on the trends that most utility companies use to determine their rates and which ones they are planning to adopt.