In 1910, the Maryland General Assembly established the Public Service Commission (PSC or Commission) to regulate public utilities and certain passenger transportation companies doing business in Maryland. The jurisdiction and powers of the Commission are found in the Public Utility Companies Article, Annotated Code of Maryland.
The Commission regulates gas, electric, telephone, water, and sewage disposal companies. Also subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission are electricity suppliers, fees for pilotage services to vessels, construction of a generating station and certain common carriers engaged in the transportation for hire of persons. The PSC’s jurisdiction extends to taxicabs operating in the City of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Cumberland, and Hagerstown.
The categories of regulated public service companies are listed below:
- electric utilities
- gas utilities
- combination gas and electric utilities
- telecommunications companies
- water, and water and sewerage companies
- passenger motor vehicle carriers (sedans, limousines, and buses)
- railroad companies
- taxicab companies
- other public service companies
The Commission is empowered to hear and decide matters relating to: (1) rate adjustments; (2) applications to exercise or abandon franchises; (3) applications to modify the type or scope of service; (4) approval of issuance of securities; (5) promulgation of new rules and regulations; and (6) quality of utility and common carrier service. The Commission has the authority to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in connection with an electric utility’s application to construct or modify a new generating station or high-voltage transmission lines.
Best known to the public is the Commission’s role in setting utility rates. However, the Commission has much broader authority for supervision and regulation of activities of public service companies. In addition to setting rates, the Commission collects and maintains records and reports of public service companies, reviews plans for service, inspects equipment, audits financial records, handles consumer complaints, promulgates and enforces rules and regulations, defends its decisions on appeal to State courts, and intervenes in relevant cases before federal regulatory commissions and federal courts.