History and Mission of the Commission
On October 14, 1879, Georgia became one of the first states to establish a regulatory body to resolve complications resulting from increased railroad expansion and competition. Known at that time as the "Railroad Commission of Georgia," this three member body originally was appointed by the governor for the purpose of regulating railway freight and passenger rates.
In 1891, telegraph and express companies came under the Commission’s jurisdiction. Sixteen years later, the Commission was given authority over docks and wharves, as well as telephone, natural gas and electric companies. This jurisdiction was further expanded in 1931 when authorization to regulate the trucking industry was conferred upon the Commission. Cognizant of the changing role of this regulatory body, the name of the Railroad Commission of Georgia was changed by the Legislature in 1922 to the Georgia Public Service Commission.
The PSC is a quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial agency comprised of five Commissioners elected on a statewide basis. Beginning with the election in the year 2000, a candidate for a seat on the Commission must meet an additional requirement of qualifying by residency in the appropriate district for which a Commission seat is available. The PSC's mission is to ensure that consumers receive the best possible value for the telecommunications, electric and gas services they receive and have available to them transportation and pipeline services that are safe and reliable. The regulatory side of the Commission's activities is most prevalent in relation to investor-owned natural gas and electric power utilities. The Commission has the authority to set rates, require long-range energy plans and projections, and provide for the safety of gas pipeline distribution systems. Commercial vehicle and driver safety remains a Commission priority, as evidenced by the strong presence of enforcement officers around the state to enforce compliance with state and federal safety, hazardous materials and economic regulations for commercial vehicles.
Over the past decade, expansion and competition have significantly changed the Commission's purpose. With the onset of competition in these industries, the Commission’s role is slowly being transformed from that of a traditional regulator to one that is called upon to arbitrate complaints among competitors. This is a trend that is expected to continue as these industries—and possibly the electric industry—move closer to being fully competitive environments.