90 Years and Counting: The History of the PUCO
Utility and transportation regulation began in
In 1906 the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation restructuring the office as the Railroad Commission and expanding its duties. The Railroad Act increased the number of commissioners to three, provided for a small staff, and for the first time, gave the body the authority to fix reasonable and non-discriminatory rates. The commission was also permitted to formulate its own rules and regulations, and exercise powers incidental to its hearings, such as administering oaths and keeping records.
In 1911 the Public Service Commission was established by the legislature to deal with public concerns springing up outside the limited field of railroads. At that time, jurisdiction was extended to telephone, electric, gas, and water companies, and the commission was granted the authority to value utilities and prescribe a uniform system of accounts. The commission was also allowed to approve or deny the issuance of corporate securities by public utilities and railroads.
In 1913 the name was changed to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The PUCO took on comprehensive motor bus line regulatory duties in 1921 and two years later received jurisdiction over the motor transportation of property. The PUCO began regulating wastewater companies in 1961.
Major change occurred in 1983 when the PUCO expanded from a three- to five-person commission. Commissioners remain appointed by the governor, and serve five-year terms. The governor makes the selection from a list of names submitted by the PUCO Nominating Council, a broad-based group charged with screening suitable candidates for the office of commissioner.
Today’s PUCO affects nearly every household in
To carry out its responsibilities, the PUCO employs a professional staff that includes engineers, economists, attorneys, and safety inspectors. Continually monitoring the activities of utility and transportation companies, the PUCO works to ensure safe and reliable services for all Ohioans.
To assure all residential and business consumers access to adequate, safe, and reliable utility services at fair prices, while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices.
In carrying out our mission, we must balance consumer protection by creating a fair competitive environment, while relaxing regulation where appropriate.