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1898’s Historic Speech

Talking about 1898, Samuel Insull’s historic speech, “Public Control and Private Operation,” took place on the seventh of June of that year, in Insull’s adopted town of Chicago. Here are his key words that day, that built the foundation for the regulated utility industry:

“Acute competition necessarily frightens the investor, and compels corporations to pay a very high price for capital…

While it is not supposed to be popular to speak of exclusive franchises, it should be recognized that the best service at the lowest possible price can only be obtained, certainly in connection with the industry with which we are identified, by exclusive control of a given territory being in the hands of one undertaking…

In order to protect the public, exclusive franchises should be coupled with the conditions of public control, requiring all charges for services fixed by public bodies to be based on cost plus a reasonable profit. It will be found that this cost will be reduced in direct proportion to the protection afforded the industry.

The more certain this protection is made, the lower the rate of interest and the lower the total cost of operation will be, and, consequently, the lower the price of service to public and private users.”