Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

  1. What is the Public Utilities Commission’s responsibility?
  2. How did the PUC get started?
  3. Who does the PUC regulate?
  4. How many commissioners serve on the PUC?
  5. How are commissioners selected?
  6. What is a rate case?
  7. How can I get involved in PUC decisions?
  8. What role does the PUC play in energy conservation?
  9. What role does the PUC play in protecting the environment?

1. What is the Public Utilities Commission’s responsibility?

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is the state's agency responsible for the regulation of public utilities such as electric, natural gas and landline telephone service. The PUC also has oversight of the construction or modifications to large energy facilities, such as electric power plants, transmission lines, wind power generation plants, and large natural gas and petroleum pipelines.

2. How did the PUC get started?

Rate regulation in Minnesota began with the appointment of a railroad commissioner in 1871 and the establishment of a Railroad and Warehouse Commission in 1895. Minnesota telephone companies have been regulated since 1915. In 1975, Minnesota became the 48th state to regulate the rates of natural gas and electric utilities.

3. Who does the PUC regulate?

The PUC regulates all of the Investor Owned Utilities that serve Minnesota.  Though all electric utilities are to abide by state laws, statutes and rules, only Investor-Owned utilities are subject to rate regulation.  A cooperative or municipal utility may choose to be regulated by the PUC (Dakota County Cooperative is the only one that does so at this time).

4. How many commissioners serve on the PUC?

Five.

5. How are commissioners selected?

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission consists of five commissioners appointed by the governor to six-year, staggered terms. By law, no more than three commissioners can be of the same political party and at least one commissioner must reside at the time of appointment outside the seven-county metropolitan area. The governor designates one of the commissioners to serve as chair.

6. What is a rate case?

A rate case is the regulatory process that public utilities must follow to formally change their rates.  The MPUC regulates rate changes, and any proposed changes must first go through a review process before a decision is made by the PUC.  In deciding the appropriate rates, the PUC accepts comment from a variety of sources, including customers.  Due to the breadth of information the PUC considers, rate cases typically take around one year to complete.

7. How can I get involved in PUC decisions?

The public may comment on most issues pending before the PUC.  The PUC has a website called “Speak Up” (https://minnesotapuc.granicusideas.com/) that facilitates the submission of public comment.  PUC hearings are also open to the public.  

8. What role does the PUC play in energy conservation?

The PUC reviews recommendations the Minnesota Department of Commerce makes as part of the Conservation Improvement Program (“CIP”).  In this role, the PUC ensures that the utilities’ conservation efforts recovered from customers are prudent and reasonable.  The PUC also approves appropriate financial incentives for energy conservation and approves recovery of the cost of CIP.

9. What role does the PUC play in protecting the environment?

In ensuring that utility services are delivered safely, reliably and efficiently, the Commission:

  • Emphasizes the production and consumption of energy resources that will minimize damage to the environment;
  • Encourages conservation;
  • Implements the state's energy policies;
  • Establishes rules related to safety and quality of service;
  • Encourages the development and appropriate implementation of new technologies and services for the public.

 

To learn more about the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission click here:  www.mn.gov/puc