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2005-06 Seminars


The Contrasting Policies of the FCC and FERC Regarding the Importance of Open Transmission Networks in Downstream Competitive Markets

Harvey Reiter
Stinson Morrison Hecker, LLP., Washington D.C.

Abstract
Over the last 20 years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has adopted and promoted open access regimes to govern the use of electric transmission networks and natural gas pipeline systems. Its aim has been to foster and protect competition in sale of natural gas and electric power by giving independent suppliers equal footing with network owners selling the same products and services. For years, the Federal Communications Commission followed a similar course in its regulation of communications networks, requiring telecommunications carriers to make their networks available to competing internet service providers and others. Last June the Supreme Court ruled that the FCC was within its authority to free cable companies from any duty to make their broadband networks available to competing internet service providers. Two months later the FCC chose to free telecommunications companies of this same obligation. The talk will explore and critique the rationales articulated by these agencies for their dramatically different policy choices.