Professor Kelly has chosen a topic that is both timely and challenging. The major reforms in federal regulation that occurred in the 1980s have created a dynamic, competitive market in natural gas. State regulators confront a daunting task in attempting to devise appropriate changes in their methods of regulating local distribution companies (LDCs). The many difficult problems facing them have a single source: gas is a commodity, but gas service is not. An MMBtu of gas in the ground in Texas is currently worth less than a dollar. An MMBtu of gas at a particular plant site or residence at a particular moment in time can be worth two dollars, five dollars, ten dollars, or even more. Getting the gas to a particular location at a particular time is a costly, complicated, and capital-intensive process. It requires use of multiple, immobile, idiosyncratic assets, including production and gathering facilities, high pressure pipelines, storage fields, and low pressure distribution lines.

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