- —public-utility, adj.1. a business enterprise, as a public-service corporation, performing an essential public service and regulated by the federal, state, or local government. Cf. utility (def. 3).2. Usually, public utilities. stocks or bonds of public-utility companies, excluding railroads.[1900-05]
* * *Enterprise that provides certain classes of services to the public, including common-carrier transportation (buses, airlines, railroads); telephone and telegraph services; power, heat and light; and community facilities for water and sanitation.In most countries such enterprises are state-owned and state-operated; in the U.S. they are mainly privately owned, but they operate under close regulation. Given the technology of production and distribution, they are considered natural monopolies, since the capital costs for such enterprises are large and the existence of competing or parallel systems would be inordinately expensive and wasteful. Government regulation in the U.S., particularly at the state level, aims to ensure safe operation, reasonable rates, and service on equal terms to all customers. Some states have experimented with deregulation of electricity and natural-gas operations to stimulate price reductions and improved service through competition, but the results have not been universally promising.
* * *enterprise that provides certain classes of services to the public, including common carrier transportation (buses, airlines, railroads, motor freight carriers, pipelines, etc.); telephone and telegraph; power, heat, and light; and community facilities for water, sanitation, and similar services. In most countries such enterprises are state-owned and state-operated, but in the United States they are mainly privately owned and are operated under close governmental regulation.The classic explanation for the need to regulate public utilities is that they are enterprises in which the technology of production, transmission, and distribution almost inevitably leads to complete or partial monopoly (monopoly and competition)—that they are, in a phrase, natural monopolies. The monopolistic tendency arises from economies of scale in the particular industry, from the large capital costs typical of such enterprises, from the inelasticity of demand among consumers of the service, from considerations of the excess capacity necessary to meet demand peaks, and other considerations. It is often also the case that the existence of competing parallel systems—of local telephones or natural gas, for example—would be inordinately expensive, wasteful, and inconvenient. Given the tendency to monopoly and the potential therefore of monopolistic pricing practices, public regulation has for more than a century been applied to certain classes of business.In practice, regulation aims to ensure that the utility serves all who apply for and are willing and able to pay for its services, that it operates in a safe and adequate manner, that it serves all customers on equal terms, and that its rates are just and reasonable. All states have regulatory commissions, and the federal government has several, including the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Federal Power Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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public utility — n: a business organization (as an electric company) performing a public service and subject to special government regulation Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. public utility … Law dictionary
public utility — ➔ utility * * * public utility UK US noun [C, usually plural] COMMERCE ► a company that supplies water, gas, or electricity to people: »Transportation, public utilities and construction accounted for another 14,000 jobs. »public utility… … Financial and business terms
public utility — n. an organization supplying water, electricity, transportation, etc. to the public, operated, usually as a monopoly, by a private corporation under governmental regulation or by the government directly … English World dictionary
public utility — ► NOUN ▪ an organization supplying the community with electricity, gas, water, or sewerage … English terms dictionary
Public utility — Utilities redirects here. For other uses, see Utility (disambiguation). Public infrastructure Assets and facilities Airports … Wikipedia
public utility — A privately owned and operated business whose services are so essential to the general public as to justify the grant of special franchises for the use of public property or of the right of eminent domain, in consideration of which the owners… … Black's law dictionary
public utility — noun a company that performs a public service; subject to government regulation (Freq. 1) • Syn: ↑utility, ↑public utility company, ↑public service corporation • Hypernyms: ↑service • Hyponyms … Useful english dictionary
public utility — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms public utility : singular public utility plural public utilities a company that provides gas, electricity, or water for people to use … English dictionary
public utility — public utilities N COUNT Public utilities are services provided by the government or state, such as the supply of electricity and gas, or the train network. Officials said water supplies and other public utilities in the capital were badly… … English dictionary
public utility — public u tility n a private company that is allowed by the government to provide important services such as gas, electricity, water etc … Dictionary of contemporary English