public utility

public utility
A privately owned and operated business whose services are so essential to the general public as to justify the grant of special franchises for the use of public property or of the right of eminent domain, in consideration of which the owners must serve all persons who apply, without discrimination. It is always a virtual monopoly. A business or service which is engaged in regularly supplying the public with some commodity or service which is of public consequence and need, such as electricity, gas, water, transportation, or telephone or telegraph service. Gulf States Utilities Co. v. State, Tex.Civ.App., 46 S.W.2d 1018, 1021.
Any agency, instrumentality, business industry or service which is used or conducted in such manner as to affect the community at large, that is, which is not limited or restricted to any particular class of the community. The test for determining if a concern is a public utility is whether it has held itself out as ready, able and willing to serve the public. The term implies a public use of an article, product, or service, carrying with it the duty of the producer or manufacturer, or one attempting to furnish the service, to serve the public and treat all persons alike, without discrimination. It is synonymous with "public use," and refers to persons or corporations charged with the duty to supply the public with the use of property or facilities owned or furnished by them. Buder v. First Nat. Bank in St. Louis, C.C.A.Mo., 16 F.2d 990, 992.
To constitute a true "public utility," the devotion to public use must be of such character that the public generally, or that part of it which has been served and which has accepted the service, has the legal right to demand that that service shall be conducted, so long as it is continued, with reasonable efficiency under reasonable charges. The devotion to public use must be of such character that the product and service is available to the public generally and indiscriminately, or there must be the acceptance by the utility of public franchises or calling to its aid the police power of the state

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

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