The Commission: About the Commission
The Public Service Commission is a constitutional agency with varying degrees of statutory authority over:
- Electric and Gas Utilities
- Telecommunications Companies
- Energy Plant and Transmission Sitings
- Grain Elevators
- Auctioneers and Auction Clerks
- Weighing and Measuring Devices
- Pipeline Safety
- Coal Mine Reclamation and Abandoned Mine Lands
- Damage Prevention
The Commission is comprised of three Commissioners who are elected on a statewide basis to staggered six-year terms.
The Commission was established before North Dakota became a state. Dakota Territory established a Board of Railroad Commissioners in 1885 to oversee railroads, sleeping car companies, express companies, and telephone companies. The State's constitution retained this board and entrusted it with powers and duties to be prescribed by law. In 1940 the Board's name was changed to Public Service Commission.
As the preceding list indicates, the Legislature has broadened the Commission's duties since its early days. This trend has been reversed in some areas, however, as technology and a changing regulatory environment at both the federal and state levels have resulted in a greater dependence on competitive market forces to regulate services and rates of what were traditionally monopoly service providers.
It is anticipated that some degree of regulatory oversight will remain in most of the Commission's traditional areas of responsibility. The public's needs and legislative policymakers will ultimately decide how much regulation is required in various industries.