The Institute of Public Utilities (IPU) was established in 1965 and operates within the College of Social Science at Michigan State University, the nation’s pioneer land-grant institution. We are located on MSU’s beautiful East Lansing campus and affiliated with several academic departments and research centers. IPU’s neutral analytical and instructional practice is informed by a broad spectrum of traditional and applied disciplines including economics, political science, law, accounting, finance, and engineering. IPU is an independent nonprofit unit of the University and financially self-sustaining.

IPU forums address today’s biggest challenges, including the complex integration of markets and economic regulation and the need to enhance regulatory capacity. IPU specializes in providing essential learning and networking opportunities, as well as continuing education credits. Certificates of participation can lead to a Certificate of Regulatory Education. IPU’s diverse program faculty includes nationally recognized university educators, and expert practitioners known for their insight, experience, and teaching ability.

Tradition of Stewardship

Consistent with the principles of “Boldness by Design” at MSU, IPU takes particular pride in a long tradition of stewardship, service, and responsiveness to the changing and challenging roles of federal, state, local, and international regulators. IPU enjoys a working relationship with members of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and serves as the university host of the Utility Rate Schools presented by the NARUC Committee on Water. IPU programs also provide professional development opportunities to the various participants in the regulatory process, including consumer and environmental advocates, attorneys, consultants, and utility personnel. Although utility regulators comprise our core audience, IPU’s outreach extends to energy resource and environmental regulators, public policy-makers in general, and other public and private stakeholders in the regulatory policy community. We are committed to providing all attendees with the knowledge and tools they need for success.

IPU educational programs provide highly specialized and integrative continuing education for practitioners with backgrounds in the variety of academic disciplines that are necessary to effective economic regulation in its quasi-judicial, quasi-legislative, and quasi-administrative capacities. The Institute’s flagship Annual Regulatory Studies Program, affectionately known as “Camp NARUC,” is particularly well recognized and regarded by regulatory practitioners. Since assuming responsibility for this program in 1972, IPU has provided academically grounded and essential training to thousands of commissioners and staff members of economic regulatory agencies. The foundational emphasis of the Camp program is well complemented by the hands-on experience provided by the Utility Rate Schools. The Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy brings key policymakers and stakeholders together annually at MSU. IPU also conducts an Advanced Regulatory Studies Program for seasoned professionals in the public and private sectors, as well as specialty conferences and programs, and a technically oriented Grid School to help inform public policy and regulatory decision-making with regard to modernization of the nation’s electricity grid.

In addition to our educational role, IPU also has interests and expertise in data collection and applied research on utilities, regulation, and related public policy issues. Today’s complex concerns range from structural change and the integration of markets and regulation; to issues of infrastructure investment, technological change, and security; to the application of advanced modeling and forecasting tools and impact analysis; to global climate change, resource alternatives, and efficiency; to the impact of utilities on the human condition (and vice versa). Sustainability, defined in both environmental and economic terms, is emerging as an intellectual focus of IPU.

Organization, Accountability, and Funding

IPU was originally organized within the Graduate School of Business, where the Department of Economics also was located. IPU was relocated to the College of Communications in 2002 and to the College of Social Science in 2007, where it now resides. IPU’s genuinely interdisciplinary character provides a strong rationale for organization at the college level. IPU has linkages to centers and departments within the Social Science College, including Political Science and Economics, but also across colleges, particularly Engineering, Law, Business, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. IPU’s work is linked closely to several of the strategic initiatives of the College, including those related to technology, the bio-economy, human development, climate change response and adaptation, and in particular the role of standards in society.

MSU colleges, departments, programs, and centers with which IPU affiliates include:

IPU also has strong working relationships with federal and state regulatory agencies and their professional associations, as well as various university centers.

IPU sustains operations entirely through program revenues, contracts and grants, and recurring private donations. Consistent with IPU’s public-service orientation, contributions to the University help keep educational programs affordable, support research, and sustain operations. IPU sponsors share a commitment to the Institute’s mission of service and a belief that well-informed regulation is beneficial to all stakeholders, as well as to society. IPU’s governance structure, funding diversity, and ethical standards guard against conflicts of interest. IPU receives input and advice from an Industry Advisory Board, as well as faculty and constituent advisory committees. The IPU Director is accountable to the Dean of the College of Social Science.

Through the Years: A photographic history of IPU