The commission regulates the rates and services of electric, natural gas, and telephone companies, as well as need and locational certification for large energy facilities in Minnesota. It does so through public hearings, contested case hearings, rulemaking hearings and resolving informal complaints.
The origin of industry regulation in Minnesota began in 1871 when the Legislature created the position of Railroad Commissioner (see Laws 1871, chap. 22). In 1887, the legislature expanded this office by establishing a multi-member commission called the Railroad and Warehouse Commission (see Laws 1887, chap. 10, sec. 9).
The Legislature changed the composition and appointment process several times over the following years. In 1911 the Legislature stipulated that the three members of the commission serve for a term of six years with one member up for election every two years (see Laws 1911, chap. 140). (This structure was in place until the 1970s.) The Commission assumed the responsibilities of regulating telephone companies in 1915 (see Laws 1915, chap. 152).
In 1967 the legislature created the Department of Public Service (see Laws 1967, chap. 864), consisting of two branches: the Public Service Commission and the Administrative Division. This effectively renamed and transferred all the duties of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission to the newly created Public Service Commission. In 1975 the Public Service Commission began regulating gas and electric companies (see Laws 1974, chap. 429). This law also changed the composition from three Commissioners serving for six years to five Commissioners serving for terms of five years.
A 1979 report by the Legislative Auditor noted a strained relationship between the Director of the Administrative Division of the Department of Public Service and the Commissioners of the Public Service Commission, and recommended structural changes. The 1980 legislature responded by separating the two and establishing them as independent state agencies: the Department of Public Service and the Public Utilities Commission.
(Portions of this history are taken from this 1985 report; more details about the PUC's history are found in that report.)
The Public Utilities Commission consists of five members. The terms of members shall be six years and until their successors have been appointed and qualified. Each commissioner shall be appointed by the governor by and with the advice and consent of the senate. Not more than three commissioners shall belong to the same political party. At least one commissioner must have been domiciled at the time of appointment outside the seven-county metropolitan area ("seven-county metropolitan area" means Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington Counties). The governor when selecting commissioners shall give consideration to persons learned in the law or persons who have engaged in the profession of engineering, public accounting, property and utility valuation, finance, physical or natural sciences, production agriculture, or natural resources as well as being representative of the general public.
The governor shall select one of the commissioners to serve as the chair for a term concurrent with that of the governor. If a vacancy occurs in the position of chair, the governor shall select a new chair to complete the unexpired term.
Entries for this agency in the Annual Compilation and Statistical Report of Multi-Member Agencies Report:
2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980.
Note: This report provides membership details as well as meeting information and a summary of the group's activities.
Public Utilities Commission vice chair on how regulators will approach Minnesota 100% carbon-free law. MinnPost, 3/6/2023.
News clippings and documents: Commissioner of Public Utilities . Agencies Notebook Collection, 1955-1983.
News clippings and documents: Public Utilities Commission. Agencies Notebook Collection, 1985-2019.