A Long Slog: What a Ten Year Hydroelectric Relicensing Process Demonstrates About Public Participation and Administrative Regulation Theories
53 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2016 Last revised: 4 Mar 2017
Date Written: August 4, 2016
There aren’t many ways for the average citizen to become involved in energy regulation. Citizens have little input into any utility docket process; moreover, because the process is so difficult for the average citizen to understand, there is little oversight provided by the public in regular, everyday utility matters. However, one place where citizens have become more involved in regulatory matters is in dockets before the federal government, specifically nuclear and hydroelectric relicensing proceedings. Some theories of administrative regulation would find the increased participation a positive, while others discount the public interest potentially present in regulators’ actions.
Finding that an empirical study of citizen input into these proceedings may enlighten whether “enhanced” public participation actually leads to a potentially better outcome for the public, this article summarizes three administrative regulation theories, provides an overview of the consultation process required for hydroelectric licensing, and analyzes the Catawba-Wateree relicensing as a case study. The piece finishes with an analysis of whether the general interests of the public were served by the “enhanced” process used and what can, therefore, be gleaned from the administrative regulation theories. The conclusion indicates how this analysis is relevant to other hydroelectric systems.
Keywords: hydroelectric, public participation, relicense, public interest
JEL Classification: H49, K23, K32, Q2, Q4, Q48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation