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 collaborate with faculty and researchers from various academic colleges, departments, and centers. IPU is an independent nonprofit unit of the University and financially self-sustaining.

IPU specializes in conducting applied research and providing exceptional learning and networking opportunities to professionals in the utility policy community. IPU’s neutral analytical and instructional practice is informed by a broad array of traditional and applied disciplines including economics, political science, law, accounting, finance, and engineering. IPU‘s educational forums sharpen the skills needed to address today’s most salient challenges of infrastructure governance, including the integration of markets and economic regulation.

IPU is devoted to the ideals of regulatory independence and technical capacity. IPU’s diverse program faculty includes nationally recognized university educators and expert practitioners known for their insight, experience, and teaching ability. Program participation is typically eligible for continuing education credits and can lead to a Certificate of Continuing Regulatory Education (CCRE).


For IPU FAQ’s click here.

IPU’s Mission

The Institute of Public Utilities (IPU) supports informed, effective, and efficient governance of the providers of essential utility services – electricity, natural gas, water, and telecommunications.

We fulfill our mission by providing to the utility policy community integrative and interdisciplinary educational curricula and applied research on the institutions, theory, and practice of economic regulation and oversight. Public utility services are fundamental to the human condition in terms of health, welfare, and development. Economic regulation is essential in the context of persistent market constraints and evolving social objectives. IPU is dedicated to regulation in the public interest and uncompromising with respect to the obligations of diligence and integrity in regulatory governance. IPU takes a principled approach to regulation, an empirical approach to regulatory research, and a reasoned approach to structural and regulatory change. IPU’s guiding philosophy is that utility policy and regulation can be well served by university-based research and education.

Through the Years: A photographic history of IPU [PowerPoint]


Tradition of stewardship

Consistent with MSU’s land-grant heritage and commitment, IPU takes particular pride in a long tradition of stewardship, service, and responsiveness to the educational needs of federal, state, local, and international regulators. IPU 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.

In 1972, the leadership of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) asked Prof. Trebing to direct the two-week Annual Regulatory Studies Program, which came to be affectionately known by many students as the “Camp” program. For many years, IPU served as the association’s educational arm. Camp and other IPU programs were recognized as NARUC-affiliated, with oversight provided through the Committee on Administration. Prof. Trebing also provided exclusive educational opportunities, including the “TEC” (The Education Conference), held in conjunction with NARUC meetings through the early 1990s. IPU’s Annual Conference, which came to be known as the Williamsburg Conference, was also well attended by regulators along with prominent academicians and industry analysts.

IPU enjoys a close working relationship with members of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), including endorsement of key programs and the CCRE. IPU forums 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 stakeholders in the regulatory policy community. We are committed to providing all attendees with knowledge and tools relevant to their respective roles consistent with our mission of supporting informed, effective and efficient regulation.

In addition to our educational role, IPU also has interests and expertise in data collection and applied research on public utility regulation. IPU publishes research and resources online and has a book series with MSU Press.


Organization, accountability, and funding

IPU originally was 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. The IPU Director is accountable to the Dean of the Social Science. IPU has linkages to departments and centers within the College, including Political Science and Economics, but also across colleges, particularly Engineering, Business, Law, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. IPU’s work is linked closely to several of the strategic initiatives of the College and the University. IPU also has strong working relationships with other universities, nationally and internationally, as well as with federal and state regulatory agencies and their professional associations.

IPU is structured as a university-based knowledge center as well as a virtual network of expertise. IPU sustains operations entirely through program revenues, contracts and grants, and limited recurring private donations. IPU is an independent, not-for-profit research and educational organization located at Michigan State University, which qualifies for charitable financial support. Contributions to IPU from public or private sources are treated as gifts to MSU and designated for general research purposes and allocated to support the Director’s position. In accordance with University rules, contributors cannot stipulate or expect control of specific output. IPU also maintains a fund operating as an endowment.

Consistent with IPU’s public-service orientation, contributions to the University help us maintain Institute operations, support student assistantships, conduct discretionary research, and minimize program participation costs to the public sector. IPU constituents and contributors 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.

IPU current accepts contributions from:

For more information about supporting IPU, please contact Dr. Janice Beecher at 517.355.1876 or beecher@msu.edu.