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Janice Beecher - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Janice Beecher

Director of the Institute of Public Utilities | Michigan State University


Expert in economic regulation and pricing of public utilities.



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Dr. Janice Beecher (beecher@msu.edu) was appointed as Director of MSU's Institute of Public Utilities in 2002, bringing more than thirty years of applied research experience to the position. Her areas of interest include regulatory principles, institutions, governance, and pricing and she specializes in the water sector. She is a frequent author, lecturer, and participant in professional forums and Editor of the journal Utilities Policy (Elsevier). She co-authored the book Risk Principles for Public Utility Regulators (MSU Press). Dr. Beecher is presently serving on the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Finance Advisory Board and previously served on Michigan's 21st Century Infrastructure Commission. She has also advised the state and cities on water policy, pricing, and affordability. She previously held positions at The Ohio State and Indiana Universities and the Illinois Commerce Commission. She is a faculty member in MSU’s Department of Political Science and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University.

Industry Expertise (4)



Public Policy

Industrial Automation

Areas of Expertise (8)

Academic journal management and research editing

Environmental and resource policy and regulation

Water industry structure, privatization, and pricing

Theory and practice of public utility regulation

Regulatory institutions, governance, policy, and ethics

Social dimensions of public utility networks

Rates, rate design, and affordability of utility services

Interdisciplinary conceptual and analytical frameworks

Education (2)

Northwestern University: Ph.D., Political Science 1986

Northwestern University: M.A, Political Science 1980

Affiliations (1)

  • Institute of Public Utilities Industry Advisory Board (annual support since 2002)

News (3)

DOE Rejects NARUC Invites on Coal, Nuke Bailout

RTO Insider  


“Regulators should and mostly do have discretion with regard to the treatment of capital and operating costs, including consideration of risk and obsolescence, and the alignment of cost recovery to useful life,” Janice Beecher, director of Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities, said in an email. “Potential obsolescence within one year raises several issues. The regulatory policy community would benefit from research and information-sharing in this area, given its criticality.”...

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MSU Scholar Appointed to National Environmental Advisory Board

MSU Today  


Michigan State University’s Janice Beecher was appointed to serve on the Environmental Financial Advisory Board. This group provides ideas and advice to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on ways to lower costs of and increase investments in environmental and public health protection...

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MSU Scholar Appointed to New State Infrastructure Commission

MSU Today  


Michigan State University’s Janice Beecher was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve on a new state commission charged with creating a long-term plan to ensure Michigan’s infrastructure remains safe and efficient...

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Journal Articles (3)

Risk and regulation in water utilities: a cross-country comparison of evidence from the CAPM

Journal of Regulatory Economics

Roger Buckland, Julian Williams, Janice Beecher

2014 This paper addresses a core issue for the regulated utility: what are the risks taken by investors in companies that supply a product whose supply is regulated? Prior research on returns of regulated water supply and distribution companies concluded that regulation interacts significantly with equity returns and that the systematic risk and hence required returns of water utilities equity were low and decreasing over time (Buckland and Fraser, J Bus Financ Account 28(7–8):877–904, 2001). The current research analyses the returns on securities issued by regulated water companies in the differently regulated economies of the UK and the US, using data from 1980 to 2010. Mirroring the results from the 1990s, the evidence suggests that UK regulators have chronically overestimated the systematic risks borne by investors in water utilities, resulting in lax pressure on permitted returns and higher prices than are needed to provoke efficiency. The analysis also confirms that there are striking differences between the regulatory risks and patterns of returns for private sector water utilities in the UK and the US.

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Structure, regulation, and pricing of water in the United States: A study of the Great Lakes region

Utilities Policy

Janice A.Beecher, Jason A.Kalmbach

2013 The structure and regulation of the U.S. water industry is more complex than is often apparent and pricing practices vary substantially. While not representative of the region or nation, a survey of the largest water systems in the wider Great Lakes region is illustrative as well as revealing of salient considerations within the sector. Data from Wisconsin provide additional perspective with regard to trends in costs and prices for water. The context of rising costs and prices, and growing concerns about accountability and sustainability, suggests consideration of pricing practices as well as the role of economic regulation in the water sector.

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The ironic economics and equity of water budget rates

Journal of the American Water Works Association

Janice A. Beecher

2012 Water budget rates are gaining attention in the water sector. Although clearly well‐intended, the water budget approach raises several serious theoretical and practical issues familiar to applied regulatory economics. In essence, water budget rates exemplify “social rate‐making,” i.e., a system of pricing that departs from traditional economic standards in the interest of serving social goals—in this case, water conservation. The inherent problem with this particular rate structure, however, is not its good intentions but its disconcerting implications. The troubling irony of water budget rates, however, appears to be lost in the dicussion. A simple illustration reveals the mathematical reality of the rate structure based on one water district's rendition and online bill‐calculation tool. In addition, several implementation issues are raised. As long as their choices do not burden others, communities are free to implement water rate structures they deem appropriate to their values and goals. As posited here, however, the water sector would benefit from applying less ironic and more iconic rate‐making principles.

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