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Unservice: Reconceptualizing the Utility Duty to Serve in Light of Climate Change

Many facets of utility monopoly regulation are approaching a minimum of eight decades as part of our legal landscape. A bedrock principle of state utility regulation is the duty to serve, which demands that utilities provide nondiscriminatory service to all those within their geographic territory for the specific service for which they have been granted a monopoly. Within its exclusive territory, a utility is required “to serve all present and reasonably to be anticipated future users.” Each state has adopted some form of this for its regulated monopolies, although formulations differ. This Article argues that in light of climate change impacts, the duty to serve must change.

Heather Payne

Associate Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law