A public utility is an organization that can be privately or publicly owned but both are regulated from local community based groups to statewide government monopolies. These services are provided by organizations consumed by the public, such as electricity, natural gas, water, telecommunications, and wastewater.

Since public utilities can be natural monopolies due to their infrastructure and requirements to produce and deliver, they are expensive to maintain and as a result, that is why they are either ran or regulated by the government.

Publicly owned utilities include cooperative and municipal utilities. Municipal tend to include areas outside of city limits and sometimes may not even serve the whole city, whereas cooperative utilities are owned by the customers they serve so they are usually found in rural areas. Public owned utilities are non-profit, private owned utilities are owned by investors mainly and operate for profit, usually referred to as a rate of return.

Public utility commissions is a government agency, normally on a state level which regulates the commercial activities related to the associated utilities. They work on behalf of the citizens and customers and are typically composed of commissioners appointed by theire respective governors and/or dedicated staff that implement and enforce the rules and regulations, as well as approve or deny rate increases and monitor/report on relevant activities.

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