The Public Service Commission supervises and regulates the rates, services, operations and most other activities of all public utilities and many common and contract motor carriers passengers and property within West Virginia. The Commission processes and acts on petitions filed by these regulated entities. The Commission also acts upon complaints against utilities and common carriers.
The Commission was established in 1913 by an act of the State Legislature. At that time, the Commission's chief responsibilities related to regulation of railroads (one of the first regulated utilities in most states) along with toll bridges and ferries. Over the years, as other utilities have grown in importance to the public welfare, the Commission's activities have expanded into the regulation of companies providing electricity, natural gas, water, telecommunications, and sewer service in all fifty-five counties of the State.
The Public Service Commission consists of three members, appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. No more than two members of the Commission may belong to the same political party. The Commissioners serve six year staggered terms, with one term expiring as of July 1 of each odd numbered year. One Commissioner is designated as Chairman of the Commission by the Governor. The Chairman serves as the chief administrative officer of the Commission.
The Commission employs an extensive staff. The staff consists of employees who serve in capacities related to the fiscal, administrative and operational functions of the Commission and those in an advocacy function. The operating staff of the Commission includes the Commissioners' personal staff, the Administrative Law Judge Division, the Executive Secretary's Office and the Administrative Division. The Commission advocacy staff includes the Legal Division, the Transportation Division, the Utilities Division and the Water/Wastewater Division. There is also an administratively separate Consumer Advocate Division responsible chiefly to appear in Commission proceedings on behalf of residential consumers.
Until 1984 the Commission offices were in the State Capitol building. In 1981, the West Virginia Legislature enacted legislation directing the Commission to acquire a suitable site for a PSC headquarters building. The Commission located that site at 201 Brooks Street, in Charleston. This site is near the center of Charleston's downtown area at the corner of Brooks and Quarrier Streets, approximately one mile west of the State Capitol building. A new building was constructed and the Commission moved into its new headquarters in October, 1984.
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