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Economic Definition of public utility. Defined.

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Term public utility Definition: The common term for a firm that provides and important (what some deem as essential) good or service primarily in and urban area and often through the use of an extensive distribution network. Common examples of public utilities are those that produce, provide, and/or distribute electricity, natural gas, local telephone services, cable television services, water, garbage collection, and sewage processing. A key feature is that capital requirements mean that public utilities tend to be natural monopolies. One firm can generally provide the services at a lower average cost that two or more firms. For this reason, public utilities tend to be either government owned and operated or heavily regulated by government.

 

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