You want to pay a reasonable rate for electricity, water and other utilities. The companies that supply those utilities need to make a reasonable amount of money.
How do you reach a compromise? That’s our job.
The Public Service Commission of South Carolina works to help investor-owned utilities set reasonable rates while protecting consumer interests.
Here are a few answers to frequent questions about who we are and what we do.
Q. What do you do, exactly?
The PSC has exclusive jurisdiction to establish fair, reasonable rates for utility services under its jurisdiction. It must balance residents’ need for reliable services and reasonable rates with utilities’ need to earn a reasonable return on investment.
Q. Do you oversee all utilities?
No. Municipal utilities, such as what you might call “city water,” would be outside our jurisdiction. We help set rates for utility companies like SCE&G or Santee Cooper.
Q. So you help utilities make money?
Not exactly. The PSC does not guarantee profits to service providers. While we take into consideration the utilities’ desire to get a reasonable return on their investment (supplying power, water, gas, telephone service, etc.), it is the company’s responsibility to make sound business decisions to produce earnings.
Q. Who is on the commission?
The state is divided into seven districts, with one commissioner for each district. Detailed biographies are available on our website. We also have a list of past commissioners and their biographies.
Q. How are commissioners selected?
The State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee — composed of 10 members, six from the legislature and four from the general public — screens and nominates candidates. Then, the General Assembly votes on those nominees. Commissioners serve staggered four-year terms.
Q. How can I keep up with cases that interest me?
Members of the public can write to their commissioner, attend hearings and contact the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff. Consumers may also sign up for email notifications relating to cases that may interest them.
Q. My commissioner represents me, so I want to tell him or her how to vote. How do I do that?
During any case before the Commission, members of the public may file letters of protest. A letter of protest form and instructions for writing the letter are available on the Public Service Commission website.
Utility rate cases have public hearings as part of the PSC’s decision process. You can present testimony as a public witness. You may be cross-examined by other parties in the case. Public witnesses are not considered parties and may not cross-examine other witnesses or ask questions of the Commission.
Q. Can’t I just call my commissioner? That would be easier.
No. The commissioners and staff are not allowed to communicate directly or indirectly about any issue involved in a proceeding or any issue that may reasonably be expected to be involved in a future proceeding without notice and opportunity for all parties to participate in the communication. And no one can communicate with a commissioner or commission staff about those issues without notice and opportunity for all parties to participate.
Q. When does the PSC meet? May I go?
Yes. All matters scheduled for public hearing are heard in open session. Check the calendar to see what’s on the docket.