IPU frequently asked questions

For more information about the Institute please visit About IPU.

Why has IPU moved its programs online?

We have turned our focus to developing curricula and delivering exceptional synchronous remote educational opportunities. This model enables IPU to lower the cost of program participation; expand our national and international connections; offer innovative, flexible, and customizable programming; and reduce our carbon footprint. This proactive step also aligns with IPU’s long-term strategic plan to transform and advance our outreach roles in both applied research and professional education, consistent with our university mission and with the outstanding support of MSU. We remain as committed as ever to the regulatory policy community and look forward to serving your educational needs.


How do the IPU online courses differ from the in-person courses?

IPU’s online courses are designed to replicate the in-person courses in terms of content, materials, quality, and opportunities to interact with the program faculty. Online learning offers a great value in continuing education even though, like you, we regret giving up the professional networking opportunities.


How do I know which IPU program is right for me?
IPU offers a variety of courses, from fundamentals, to intermediate, to advanced. Please see the IPU Program Guide for an overview of all offerings and feel free to give us a call for more information. Visit the IPU program pages on our website for details and updates on all IPU programs.


Are IPU programs relevant only to commission staff members?
IPU program curricula are relevant to anyone working in the field of regulation, including public-sector employees at all levels of government (federal, state, regional, and local), as well as not-for-profit and cooperatives organizations. Professional interaction from alternative perspectives is encouraged. Regulatory professionals working for legislatures, attorneys general, consumer and environmental advocates, law and consulting firms, and others find the programs very beneficial in terms of understanding regulatory principles and practices.


Who teaches at IPU programs?
IPU’s diverse and nationally recognized program faculty members are drawn from the academic, public, and private sectors and are well known for their experience, expertise, and teaching ability. Many program faculty members have worked for governmental agencies and are graduates of IPU programs. Our instructors are dedicated to developing, sharing, and preserving critical institutional knowledge in the field of public utility regulation. MSU faculty members involved in our programs come from the Colleges of Social Science, Law, Engineering, Communications, and Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Are IPU programs relevant to jurisdictions that have “restructured”?
IPU takes a reasoned approach to structural and regulatory change, without bias or judgment. We do not present regulation and competitive markets as alternatives, but as constructs derived from a common body of knowledge. Developments in regulation and markets are well considered throughout the program. Regulatory commissions in restructured states also continue to have substantial policy responsibilities. Regardless of roles, IPU is committed to providing attendees the information and tools they need.


How do IPU programs address differing perspectives on regulation?
IPU’s core mission is to promote an informed regulatory process. We strive to design a program that provides participants with both an objective overview of the theory and practice of regulation, as well as an appreciation of the alternative perspectives on current and often controversial regulatory issues. We welcome and respect a diversity of viewpoints and encourage active engagement among program faculty and participants.


Can I repeat an IPU program?
IPU programs provide refresher for seasoned professionals who want to revisit core principles in a new context or learn about emerging issues and methods of regulation. IPU stirves to ensure that the overall curriculum and individual modules are updated continuously to reflect dynamics of the utility sectors and regulatory policies. Returning attendees are always welcome and also eligible for a program discount.


Can I share my IPU program materials?

All IPU program curriculum and materials belong to the university and the program faculty. The materials are developed for the exclusive use of registered program attendees should not be shared. Content should also not be cited without express permission of the author.


Does IPU post program recordings online?

Our of respect for the program faculty and attendees, and to protect our intellectual property, IPU does not post or share recordings of IPU programs. Under special circumstances, individual program participants may be granted limited access to recorded sessions.


What do IPU program fees cover?
Fees vary but IPU programs offer a great educational value. Fee differentiation by sector, a common practice, reflects fiscal capacity and tax status. IPU-MSU program fees cover the costs of curriculum and materials development, as well as logistical expenses for in-person events. IPU is part of MSU, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Revenues in excess of expenditures support IPU’s overall mission of research and education and sustain our role as a trusted resource to the regulatory policy community. In other words, our program attendees are our most important sponsors.


Does IPU offer discounts on program fees?
IPU programs provide great value and are very cost competitive, especially when considering both registration fees and per diem costs. IPU offers a discount to members of IPU Affiliate organizations. IPU also offers discounts to attendee groups from the same organization, if arranged in advance of registration. Discounts for the Intermediate Course are also available for previous attendees of the Fundamentals Course of the Annual Regulatory Studies Program. IPU also has a hardship policy; please contact us if circumstances are preventing your participation.


Does IPU provide financial assistance to program attendees?
IPU limits corporate contributions and generally cannot offer financial assistance to program attendees. IPU is completely self-supported and program revenues provide most of our funding for operations. Stipends may be available through other regulatory and professional organizations. MSU faculty and students are welcome to sit in on program sessions. Potential participants facing a financial hardship should contact the IPU Director.


Does IPU charge cancellation fees?
IPU tries to avoid charging cancellation fees while reserving the right to do so when costs are incurred. Substitute attendees are accepted at any time. A fee can also be transferred to a future program. When cancellation is necessary, early notification is much appreciated. Registration fees cannot be refunded once program materials have been made available.


Does IPU publicize the list of program attendees?
Out of respect for your privacy, and in keeping with our educational mission, we do not publicize our attendee lists in advance of our programs. A list will be shared with attendees only. IPU does not facilitate or condone lobbying or ex parte communications at programs.


Can international professionals attend IPU programs?
IPU welcomes program attendees from all over the world and can help with necessary planning and paperwork. The issues arising in the field of utility regulatory, particularly the challenge of assuring affordable access to essential services, tend to be universal. IPU programs are grounded in core disciplines from which all regulatory professionals draw. Although the programs may have a U.S. focus, much of the information is transferable. We learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives, and all attendees enjoy networking with their counterparts from across the U.S. and abroad. For attendees to get the most out of the programs, fluency in English is recommended.


Does IPU conduct research?
IPU’s research program enhances our educational role in support of the regulatory policy community. IPU’s analytical approach is objective, broad-based, and informed by traditional and applied academic disciplines. Most IPU research is self-supported, but we also engage in externally sponsored research as long as it is consistent with academic standards and our mission. For questions about research, please contact the IPU director.


How can I access and use IPU research?
Research published by IPU is freely available to download, including our books (excluding the current book series). All IPU resources should be cited and appropriate attribution is much appreciated. Works by faculty members and associates published on an open-access basis in academic journals are also shared.


Does IPU advocate policy positions?
IPU’s goal is to support informed regulation, not to take policy positions or engage in advocacy. Although we serve as an information resource to regulatory and legislative bodies, we do not get directly involved in rate cases or other proceedings before the regulatory commissions. From time to time, we will engage in research, investigations, or other forms of engagement meant to improve regulatory governance. IPU program faculty disclose their perspectives and opinions, and recognize that others may view issues differently.


Is IPU a membership organization?
IPU is not a membership or political organization. IPU is fully affiliated with Michigan State University. IPU welcomes the opportunity to work with regulatory professionals individually or through their professional associations and has an Affiliate program. However, IPU maintains independence consistent with our academic role and service mission.


Does IPU accept contributions in support of its mission?
IPU conditionally accepts financial support of its mission at any level and from diverse sources. By providing partial support of the IPU’s director’s salary, contributions improve program affordability, sustain operations, and support self-directed research. Contributions can be made through the MSU gift portal, are treated as a gift to the University, and are subject to all applicable rules and regulations. IPU sponsors share a commitment to IPU’s mission of service and a belief that well-informed regulation is broadly beneficial to all stakeholders. Recurring major sponsors are invited to serve on an IPU advisory board pursuant to IPU Bylaws as approved by the University. Click here


What is the IPU Affiliate Program?
IPU Affiliates support IPU through collaborative marketing under a simple memorandum of understanding. Affiliates are identified on the IPU website, and organizational members receive registration discounts to IPU educational programs. Click here


How is IPU related to NARUC?
IPU is the longest-serving and leading continuing education in the utility regulatory field. IPU programs are nonexclusive and designed to meet the needs of the regulatory policy community, including professionals employed by member agencies of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). IPU programs have never been NARUC officiated, funded, or controlled. Any affiliations or endorsements are considered carefully, as we are university-based and nonexclusive, and our independence is consistent with our academic mission.