Serving in the Public Interest: Samuel Insull and the Public Service Utility Imaginary
This chapter examines the rhetoric of Samuel Insull as an example of how early electricity utility executives framed the idea of granting monopoly territories in terms of the “public interest.” While the public interest has not always maintained sustained attention in public policy research, the concept remains as strong as ever a justification for specific policies and procedures that shape how utilities deliver energy to the public. Insull’s public speeches and other events demonstrate an important instantiation of the coproduction of an energy transition and the reimagining of how the public and energy companies interact. Though this model is by no means perfect, it represents an idea of sociotechnical order that has sustained for over a century, a level of persistent change that is instructive for considering how to shape the ongoing transition to sustainable energy systems.
Published: January 13, 2023
Tidwell A., and J.H. Tidwell. 2022.Serving in the Public Interest: Samuel Insull and the Public Service Utility Imaginary. In Energy Democracies for Sustainable Futures, edited by M. Nadesan, M.J. Pasqualetti, and J. Keahey. 11-16. Amsterdam:Elsevier.PNNL-SA-161220.