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History of the Public Service Commission of South Carolina

Utility regulation in South Carolina had its beginning with the passage of an Act by the 1878 General Assembly, creating a Railroad Commission for the purpose of regulating railroads operating within the State. The first Commissioner was appointed December 24, 1878, by the then Governor Wade Hampton.

The General Assembly in 1910 established a Public Service Commission, empowering it with the authority to "fix and establish in all cities of the State rates and charges for the supply of water, gas or electricity furnished by any person, firm or corporation to such cities, the inhabitants thereof, and to prescribe penalties."

The 1922 General Assembly combined the two three-member commissions and added one additional commissioner to form the present seven-member commission. The name was changed in 1934 to the Public Service Commission.

A joint session of the General Assembly elects the Commission for a term of four years, one from each of the seven Congressional Districts.

On January 1, 2005, The South Carolina Public Service Commission began the new year as a restructured quasi judicial body, as the result of legislation passed the previous year. Act 175 of 2004 brought about major changes in the agency's operations. Under the new law, the Public Service Commission's principal duty is to hear cases involving the State's regulated utilities.

The Public Service Commission essentially functions as a court for cases involving utilities and other regulated companies. The Public Service Commission has broad jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the investor owned electric and gas utility companies, water and wastewater companies, telecommunications companies, motor carriers of household goods, hazardous waste disposal, and taxicabs.

The Commission's staff is composed of the Administrative Staff, Advisory Staff, Docketing Staff, and Legal Staff.

The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) was created with the enactment of Act 175 of 2004. The ORS is responsible for many of the non-adjudicative functions associated with utility regulation that formerly fell under the auspices of the Public Service Commission of SC.