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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 Act No. 662 of the General Assembly Regular Session of 1878, creating a Railroad Commissioner for the purpose of regulating railroads operating within the State. The first Railroad Commissioner was appointed December 24, 1878, by then Governor Wade Hampton.

Act No. 286 of the General Assembly Regular Session of 1910 created “ a public service commission of three reputable and competent citizens of the State, to be appointed by the Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, who shall be authorized to fix and establish in all cities of this State, now or hereafter incorporated under any general or special law of this State, maximum rates and charges for the supply of water, gas or electricity furnished by any person, firm or corporation to such city and the inhabitants thereof, such rates to be reasonable and just.

The two commission offices were consolidated with Act No. 533 of the General Assembly Regular Session of 1922,  “An Act to Establish the Railroad Commission of this State; to Consolidate the Offices of the Railroad Commission and the Public Service Commission as the Same Now Exist, and Devolve the Powers and Duties Thereof Upon the Railroad Commission Hereby Established; to Define the Powers and Duties Thereof; to Provide the Manner of Election of Said Commission, the Tenure of Office of the Members Thereof and Fix Their Salaries and Compensation; to Require the Attorney General of the State to Act as Attorney for the Commission in Matters of Public and General Interest and Whenever Thereunto Required by the Commission; and to Safeguard the Interests of the People of the State in Relation to all Transporting and Transmitting Corporations and Public Utilities Operating in This State.”

The two three-member commissions were combined and one additional commissioner added to form the present seven-member commission.

In 1934 Act No. 970 was passed, “A Joint Resolution Proposing an Amendment to Section 14 of Article IX of the Constitution of This State, so as to Provide That the Commission Now Known as the Railroad Commission Shall Hereafter be Known as The Public Service Commission.” The Amendment was ratified by Act No. 18 of the General Assembly Regular Session of 1935. The act was approved the 11th day of February, 1935.

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, Public Utility Analysts, Clerk's Office, the Project Management Office, 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.