Public Utility Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Public Utility, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Public Utility?

(n) A public utility is the provision of any service, irrespective of the lender of such services, to the public as a whole without limiting its scope to any particular group unless barred by the law of land. For example a taxi is a public utility but private cars are not.

History and Meaning of Public Utility

The concept of a public utility came into place in the late 19th century when companies began to provide essential services to the public such as electricity, water, and gas. Public utilities are regulated by governing bodies and are subject to government oversight to ensure services are provided fairly and safely to everyone. The purpose of public utilities is to offer vital services at reasonable prices, while ensuring that all people, regardless of their financial situation, have access to them.

Examples of Public Utility

  1. Electricity - Electricity is an essential service that everyone needs access to. Public utilities regulate the electrical company which provides power to homes and businesses.

  2. Water - Another essential service is water. Public utilities ensure that citizens have access to clean water, while regulating the company which provides it.

  3. Public Transport - Public transport systems, such as buses and trains, are an example of a public utility. They are provided by the government to ensure everyone has access to transportation.

Legal Terms Similar to Public Utility

  1. Common Carrier - A common carrier is a business that transports goods or people for a fee. It's similar to a public utility in that it provides a service to the public and is regulated by the government.

  2. Municipal Corporation - A municipal corporation is a legal entity created by the state to govern an area. It's similar to a public utility in that it's run by the government to provide essential services to the public.

  3. Regulatory Authority - A regulatory authority is an agency created by the government to oversee specific industries or services. It's similar to a public utility in that it's responsible for regulating specific parts of the economy.