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PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
In 1949, the Public Service Commission was created and consisted of three persons over the age of thirty appointed by the governor upon confirmation from the Senate. The term of office was six years; each county was required to be represented on the commission. The attorney general served as the commission’s legal adviser. The commission’s duties included employing all persons necessary to carry out its policies and supervising and regulating all public utilities. A public utility was and is defined as every individual, co-partnership, association, corporation, joint stock company, agency, department, or cooperative that operates any transportation, steam, gas, light, heat, power, water, telephone or telegraph service, system, plant or equipment for public use. The commission had the power to investigate any public utility; to ascertain and determine the fair value of the property of any public utility; to fix just and reasonable rates imposed by the utility companies; to require said companies to file complete rate schedules; to enforce standards regarding measuring and metering devices; to ensure that all public utilities operated safely and efficiently; and to subpoena and compel the attendance of witnesses at its hearings. This commission assumed all of the jurisdiction, powers, and authority formerly vested in the Board of Public Utility Commissioners for the City of Wilmington.1
Composition of the Public Service Commission changed in 1969, the governor appointed five members with the approval of the Senate. No more than three commissioners could be of the same political party. Each county was represented by one member. New Castle County, however, contributed two additional members from its rural areas. All commissioners had to be at least thirty years old. The term of office was shortened to five years.2
In 1970 certain administrative, ministerial, budgetary, and clerical functions of the Public Service Commission were transferred to the Division of Business and Occupational Regulation under the Department of Administrative Services.3
By 1974 the General Assembly had decided that the laws governing the regulations controlling the Public Service Commission needed revision and passed the Public Utilities Act of 1974. This act created the current commission which consists of five members appointed by the governor with approval of the Senate. One member must be a resident of the City of Wilmington; one a resident of rural New Castle County; one a resident of Kent County; one a resident of Sussex County; and one a member at large who is a practicing member of the Delaware Bar. The present commission supervises and regulates all public utilities and their rates; property rights, equipment, facilities and franchises. In addition the commission is charged with regulating every cable television system outside the boundaries of incorporated municipalities. Furthermore, the commission has the power to require reports of and investigates any utility companies under their jurisdiction, fix adequate and reasonable standards for measurements used and rates charged by public utilities, and hold hearings regarding public utilities. The commission does not have any jurisdiction over municipally owned utility companies.4
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
1 47 D.L., ch. 254.
2 57 D.L., ch. 581.
3 57 D.L., ch. 139.
4 59 D.L., ch. 397.
mm; October 31, 1988; February 8, 1989
Related Topics: Commission