Public Service Commission

What is the Role of The Public Service Commission?

Nebraska outlines the constitutional powers of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to include rate and service regulation and general authority provided by law over all common carriers engaging in the transportation of household goods or passengers for hire. The PSC also regulates those providing communication services for hire in Nebraska intrastate commerce.

History of the Nebraska Public Service Commission

The constitutional powers and duties of the Public Service Commission include rate and service regulation, as well as the general control, as provided by law, of all common carriers, including contract carriers, engaged in the transportation of household goods or passengers for hire or furnishing communication services for hire in Nebraska intrastate commerce. The Commission is composed of its Transportation, Communications, Grain Warehouse, Natural Gas, Wireless E-911, and Housing and Recreational Vehicle departments.

    The Transportation Department regulates:

  • railroads (safety laws, track and motive power and equipment inspection, and the compiling and filing of reports required by law)
    household goods and passenger carriers (rates, service, territory, safety and insurance)
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    The Grain Warehouse Department regulates:

  • licensing of grain warehouses and dealers. Inspection of grain probes and moisture testing
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    The Housing and Recreational Vehicle Department regulates:

  • inspection of manufactured (mobile) homes, modular housing units and recreational vehicles through plan review, factory production line inspection, dealer lot inspection and consumer complaint investigation. The Modular Housing Advisory Board and the Manufactured Home and Recreational Vehicle Advisory Committee both consist of seven Commission-appointed members having an extensive interest in their respective industries.

    The Communications Department regulates:

  • telephone companies (basic local service rates and access charges; boundary limitations; entry into and out of the Nebraska telecommunications market; subscriber complaints against telephone companies; control over service quality; licensing of long distance companies including resellers; licensing of automatic dialing-announcing devices; oversight of the operation of the Nebraska Relay Service, a communication system for the speech and hearing impaired; auditing of local exchange telephone companies; and administration of the Link-Up and Lifeline programs). The Telecommunications Relay System Advisory Committee consists of seven members appointed by the Commission for the Speech and Hearing Impaired to advise on issues related to the hearing impaired community. The Commission administers the Nebraska Universal Service Fund with assistance from an advisory board. The Universal Service Advisory Board consists of nine members appointed by the Public Service Commission to study the need for a state universal service support mechanism in Nebraska.
    engineering (jurisdiction limited to safety while building and maintaining lines) private water companies

    The Natural Gas Department regulates:

  • rates and service quality of investor-owned natural gas public utilities, pursuant to the State Natural Gas Regulation Act (Neb. Rev. Stat. sec. 66-1801 et seq.), passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2003
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    The Wireless E-911 fund:

  • The PSC administers the E-911 fund remitting eligible expenses back to PSAP (Public Safety Answering Points)
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    Recent Events:

  • in 2011, the Nebraska legislature determined to have the Nebraska Public Service Commission review future crude oil / liquid pipeline applications in Nebraska
  • in 2012, the PSC will be working on future pipeline rules and regulations
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    Reference source:

  • Nebraska Public Service Commission

The Commission's early predecessor was the Railway Commission of 1885, which consisted of the Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor of Public Accounts, each of which appointed a secretary. The commissioners supervised railroad operations in the state, including examination of railroad documents, and could issue subpoenas and administer oaths.

The Commission lasted two years until the 1887 Legislature created a Board of Transportation with the Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor of Public Accounts, State Treasurer, Commissioner of Public Lands and Buildings, and three appointed secretaries as its members. This Board investigated common carriers and looked into their business management and set hearing dates on carrier issues. Lawmakers expanded the Board's functions in 1891 by placing the licensing and regulation of public warehouses under its jurisdiction. In 1892, the Board began classifying and fixing minimum freight rates charged by Nebraska railroads. The Board was given jurisdiction over telephone, telegraph, and express companies in 1897.

A 1901 Supreme Court ruling found the law creating the Board of Transportation unconstitutional. From 1901 to 1906, the Legislature regulated railroads. In 1906, voters ratified a constitutional amendment that created an elective Railway Commission of three members holding six-year terms. A Supreme Court ruling the following year said the amendment was legal.

In January 1964, the Commission increased its membership to five, and the state was divided into five districts, with each electing one Commissioner for a six-year term. A 1972 general election vote changed the name of the agency to the Public Service Commission in December of that year.