The Erosion of Public Control Over Public Utilities [it's been costing us all dearly]

Real estate investors often pay a great deal to utility companies. Be aware:

... corporations have used their private market power to cheat the public. The most notorious episode was in California in 2000 and 2001: After California restructured its electric power industry, five generation companies dominated the in-state wholesale electricity market. Exploiting high demand and reduced out-of-state supplies of electricity, the “Big Five” power generation companies used their position to create an artificial shortage of power and raise prices to astronomical levels. At the same time, El Paso (a major pipeline owner) withheld gas from the California market. The collective exercise of market power transferred billions from Californians to generators’ and gas producers’ coffers, led to rolling blackouts, and drove the main utility serving Northern California into bankruptcy.

This chapter in California was extreme, but not an outlier. Since then, generators across the country have been accused of market manipulation many times.

Through their decisions, Congress, FERC, and the courts have neutered public control over public utilities. Instead of public regulators setting rates, the private discretion of sellers now governs markets for gas and electricity.
Given the importance of affordable and reliable energy and the existential threat from climate change, the public must reassert control over public utilities. The urgent need for transforming energy production demands nothing less. As a start, Congress should override judicial expansions of the filed rate doctrine and restore the full application of the antitrust laws in gas and electric power markets. Injured consumers and businesses should have the right to hold corporations to account for market manipulation and deter future misconduct, including the exclusion of cleaner sources of electricity. But this is merely necessary, not enough. The reassertion of public control will require other actions such as reviving public utility rules and replacing private ownership of natural monopolies with public ownership. [Source]