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A Perspective on Tomorrow: The Changing Structure and Regulatory Environment of the Natural-Gas Industry

Arlon R. Tussing, Natural Gas Marketing (1987)

Permanent Devolution in the Gas Industry

The natural-gas industry has been only one among several traditional public utilities and other economically regulated industries, that have experienced sweeping changes over the past few years in both market structure and the relationship between government and business. While deregulation of wellhead gas prices has obviously been one of the motive forces for change in the gas business, “deregulation” as such accounts for only a portion of the profound transformations that have been taking place in banking and other financial services, airline, rail, and truck transportation, telecommunications, and electricity, as well as natural gas. The details of change in the various industries are exceedingly diverse, and some of the industries named are still “pervasively regulated” by any measure. Yet there are common currents that have imparted a common direction to their motion.

What all these cases share is not a decisive retreat on the part of public authority, but —

(a)the creation of space in the market for new services and old services in new forms, especially through the “unbundling” and rebundling of old service elements previously offered only in a small variety of packages that were most convenient for monopolistic vendors to administer and regulatory commissions to supervise; and

(b)a m