Where Was the Electricity?

Agenda Setting and the Politics of Electric-Rate Caps in Pennsylvania


  • Daniel J. Mallinson




Electric-power deregulation policy in the United States has served as useful research material for political scientists. This article uses a case study of the implementation of electric-rate deregulation in Pennsylvania to draw conclusions about broader agenda-setting theory. Case studies are useful for testing and improving broad theoretical concepts, particularly when deviations from the expectations of those theories occur. There was reasonable expectation for a policy punctuation surrounding electric-rate mitigation in 2008, but that punctuation never came. This article supports the notion that punctuations do not always follow periods of policy stability, even if policy has become misaligned with preferences. In this case, environmental factors (i.e., economic conditions) served to release pressure in the system for policy punctuation. This article also reinforces the usefulness of case studies in political science.