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The Role of the Public Service Commission

The Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates the public utilities that provide services to consumers in the state. The three main industries it regulates are electricity, natural gas and telephone. In addition, the PSC also regulates some commercial water utilities and intrastate pipelines. It is the PSC’s responsibility to ensure the public utilities operating in Wyoming provide safe and reliable service to customers at just and reasonable rates.

The general duties and functions of the PSC include regulation of monopoly utilities to ensure safe, adequate and reliable service at just and reasonable rates; certification of utility service territory; resolution of complaints lodged against utilities; electric and natural gas utility securities and financing; authorizing major utility construction projects; and utility mergers and reorganizations. Additional duties include evaluation of regulated utility applications by the Commission Technical Staff to ensure compliance with state and federal law and PSC Rules; administration of the Wyoming Universal Service Fund; representation of Wyoming interests in regulatory issues on regional and national organizations, and the arbitration of disputes between parties.


History and Composition of the PSC

The Wyoming Legislature created the PSC in 1915. It was joined with the State Board of Equalization until 1968, but has operated as a separate agency since that time. Three commissioners, appointed to staggered six-year terms by the Governor, direct the PSC. No more than two of the commissioners can be from any one political party. The PSC budget is approved by the Legislature and is funded through an assessment on gross intrastate utility revenues. By statute, the assessment may not exceed a limit of three mills. The PSC has staff support for the commissioners. The agency’s three units are Technical Staff, Legal Staff and Facility Engineering. Employees include accountants, attorneys, economists, engineers, rate analysts, and support staff.


Who the PSC Does and Does Not Regulate

The PSC has jurisdiction over four investor owned electric utilities operating in Wyoming and some jurisdiction over eighteen retail rural electric cooperatives. The Commission also regulates eleven natural gas utilities that provide retail gas service to Wyoming customers. The PSC also has some jurisdiction over fourteen incumbent local exchange telephone companies and has some lesser regulatory control over sixty-seven competitive local exchange telecom companies and 246 resellers of telecommunications companies. The Commission also has jurisdiction over twenty-three intrastate pipelines operating in Wyoming and seven private water utilities.

The PSC, however, does not regulate municipal water systems or municipal gas and electric utilities, except for that portion of their operations outside city limits. The Commission also does not regulate interstate utility companies, mainly large pipeline companies who are instead regulated by the federal government. In addition, the PSC has no jurisdiction over cable television companies. It does not regulate wholesale entities like generation and transmission cooperatives who do not sell directly to the public.