National Journal: "Given that it will cost upward of $4 trillion over the next 20 years to modernize electricity, gas, and water lines, is it OK to allow utilities to tack on extra charges to customers' bills to pay for those upgrades? How can customers voice their opinions? The first question is one that utility regulators deal with on a daily basis. The second question is only just beginning to surface."
"Every time a utility wants to add extra charges to utility bills for a system upgrade, a state public utility commission has to weigh whether the proposed upgrade is necessary and whether the company has done its due diligence in maintaining its current infrastructure. Then the commission has to consider whether the utility can or should pay for the upgrade without a surcharge. And, finally, it has to determine whether the amount of the proposed surcharge is too high. It's a long, detailed legal process that can take months (or years) to finish."