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Title 58 - Public Utilities, Services and Carriers
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Establishment of Public Service Commission.
A commission is hereby established to be known as "The Public Service Commission," which shall be composed of seven members, whose powers over all transporting and transmitting corporations and public utilities and whose duties, manner of election and term of office shall be prescribed by law.
Membership of Public Service Commission; election of commissioners.
The Public Service Commission shall be composed of seven members to be elected by the General Assembly in the manner prescribed by this chapter for terms of four years and until their successors are elected and qualify.
The General Assembly shall provide for the election of the seven member commission and elect members thereto based upon the congressional districts established by the General Assembly pursuant to the official United States Census of 1990. If the number of congressional districts is less than seven, additional members shall be elected at large to provide for a seven member commission.
[En 1979 Act No. 167 Section 4] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.
[En 1979 Act No. 167 Section 4] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.
[1979 Act No. 167 Section 4; 1992 Act No. 293, Section 1] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.
Certain persons ineligible for election to Public Service Commission.
After January 1, 1981, no member of the General Assembly shall be elected to the Public Service Commission while that person is serving in the General Assembly nor shall that person be elected to the Public Service Commission for a period of four years after he ceases to be a member of the General Assembly.
[En 1979 Act No. 167 Section 5] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.
Election of Public Service Commissioners; consideration of candidates' qualifications.
Whenever an election is to be held by the General Assembly in joint session to elect a person to serve on the Public Service Commission, a joint committee, composed of ten members, three of whom shall be members of the House of Representatives, three of whom shall be members of the Senate, two of whom shall be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate from the general public at-large, and two of whom appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives from the general public at-large shall be appointed to consider the qualifications of the candidates. Each body shall determine how its respective legislative members shall be selected. Provided, however, that in making appointments to the joint committee, race, gender, and other demographic factors should be considered to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of the State. The joint committee shall meet as soon after its appointment as may be practicable and shall elect one of its members as chairman, one as secretary, and such other officers as it may deem desirable. The joint committee shall conduct its screening pursuant to the provisions of Section 2-19-10 et seq.
The members of the general public appointed by the Speaker and the President Pro Tempore must be representative of all citizens of this State, must not be members of the General Assembly, and must not be affiliated in any way with an entity regulated by the commission.
In screening such persons for election to the Public Service Commission the joint committee shall seek to establish a commission which shall be broadly representative of the people of the State, men and women of ability and dedication with compassion and common sense. In screening persons for election to the Public Service Commission, the joint committee shall consider the knowledge and experience of the potential appointees in such varied fields as business, government, accounting, law, engineering, statistics, consumer affairs and finance. In making its findings the joint committee shall seek to find the best qualified people giving due consideration to their ability and integrity.
Oaths of commissioners; vacancies.
The commissioners shall take the oath of office provided by the Constitution and the oaths prescribed by law for State officers. The Governor may fill vacancies in the office of commissioner until the successor in such office for a full term or an unexpired term, as the case may be, shall have been elected by the General Assembly.
Office of Commission; chairman.
The Commission shall elect one of their number chairman for a period of two years. The Commission shall be furnished with an office and necessary furniture and stationery and may employ a secretary or clerk.
Clerk may administer oaths.
The clerk of the Commission may administer oaths.
Employment of technical, administrative and clerical staff; administrative law judges or hearing officers.
The Commission may employ technical, administrative, or clerical staff or other aid as may be necessary for its respective departments to carry out the provisions of Chapters 1 to 17, 21, 23, and 33 of this title and may fix the compensation for employment. The Commission may also employ and utilize administrative law judges or hearing officers to preside over rate hearings and other contested matters. The administrative law judge or hearing officer has full authority, subject to being overruled by the Commission, to rule on questions concerning the conduct of the case and the admission of evidence but may not participate in the determination on the merits of any case. The compensation, costs, and expenses incurred incident to utilization of an administrative law judge or hearing officer must be fixed or approved by the Commission and must be included as expenses of the Commission under Section 58-3-100.
Compensation of commissioners.
The chairman and members of the Commission shall receive annual salaries payable in the same manner as the salaries of other State officers are paid.
Free railroad transportation for commissioners and agents.
The commissioners and their secretary shall be transported free of charge, when in the performance of the duties of their office concerning railroads, over all railroads and railroad trains in this State and they may take with them experts or other agents whose services they may deem to be temporarily of importance and such agents shall in like manner be transported free of charge.
Meetings of Commission; quorum.
The Commission shall meet at least once each month and the chairman shall call a meeting at any other time upon the written request of any two members of the Commission. A majority of the commissioners shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of all business pertaining to their office.
Commission hearing panel; composition; appointment.
Whenever a corporation or person furnishing heat, water, sewerage collection, sewerage disposal, or street railway service, or whenever a telephone utility with fewer than ten thousand customers as of the date of filing, files a schedule setting forth proposed changes with the Commission pursuant to the procedures prescribed in this title, a panel of three members of the Commission shall hear and rule on the proposed changes. The chairman of the Commission shall appoint the members of the panel.
Assessment for expenses of Commission; Commission an other-funded agency.
The expenses of the Transportation Department of the Public Service Commission, with the exception of the expenses incurred in its railway jurisdiction, must be borne by the revenues from license fees derived pursuant to Sections 58-23-530 through 58-23-630, and assessments to the carriers of household goods and hazardous waste for disposal carriers. The expenses of the railway section of the Public Service Commission must be borne by the railroad companies subject to the Public Service Commission's jurisdiction according to their gross income from operations in this State.
Except as specifically provided above, in Sections 58-5-940 and 58-27-50, all other expenses of the Public Service Commission must be borne by the public utilities as defined in Section 58-5-10, telephone utilities as defined in Section 58-9-10, and electric utilities as defined in Section 58-27-10 under the commission's jurisdiction. On or before the first day of July in each year, the Department of Revenue shall assess each utility company, railway company, household goods carrier, and hazardous waste for disposal carrier its proportion of the expenses in proportion to its gross income from operation in this State in the year ending on the thirtieth day of June preceding that on which the assessment is made which is due and payable on or before July fifteenth. The assessments must be charged against the companies by the Department of Revenue and collected by the Department of Revenue in the manner provided by law for the collection of taxes from the companies including the enforcement and collection provisions of Article 1, Chapter 54 of Title 12 and paid, less the Department of Revenue actual incremental increase in the cost of administration into the State Treasury as other taxes collected by the Department of Revenue for the State.
The Public Service Commission shall certify to the South Carolina Department of Revenue annually on or before May first the amounts to be assessed.
The commission shall operate as an other-funded agency.
Advance of funds for office of Commission.
The appropriation for the Public Service Commission's office shall be advanced by the State until it shall have been collected from the corporations liable therefor and, when collected, shall be placed in the State Treasury.
Duties of Attorney General with respect to Commission.
The Attorney General shall:
(1) Represent and appear for the people of the State and the Commission in all actions and proceedings involving any question of general and public interest within the jurisdiction of the Commission and, if directed to do so by the Commission, intervene, if possible, in any action or proceeding in which any such question is involved;
(2) Commence, prosecute and expedite the final determination of all actions and proceedings directed or authorized by the Commission;
(3) Advise the Commission and each commissioner, when so requested, in regard to all matters connected with powers and duties of the Commission and the members thereof; and
(4) Generally perform all duties and service as attorney to the Commission which the Commission may require of him.
State agencies and the like shall supply records and information to Commission.
Every State department, board and commission and every officer or agent of the State shall furnish to the Commission, upon demand, for its inspection and for its confidential use any record filed with it or him or any information in their possession concerning the property values, operation, income or other matter of any person doing business as a public utility in this State, as defined in Section 58-5-10, an electric utility or a motor vehicle carrier.
Powers of Public Service Commission as to public utilities.
(A) The Public Service Commission is vested with power and jurisdiction to supervise and regulate the rates and service of every public utility in this State and to fix just and reasonable standards, classifications, regulations, practices, and measurements of service to be furnished, imposed, or observed, and followed by every public utility in this State.
(B) The Commission shall develop and publish a policy manual which shall set forth guidelines for the administration of the Commission. All procedures shall incorporate state requirements and good management practices to ensure the efficient and economical utilization of resources.
(C) The Commission shall facilitate access to its general rate request orders in contested matters involving over one hundred thousand dollars by publishing an order guide which indexes and cross-references such orders issued after the effective date of this act by subject matter and case name. The order guide must be made available for public inspection.
(D) The Commission is authorized to and shall promulgate regulations to require the direct testimony of witnesses appearing on behalf of utilities, and of witnesses appearing on behalf of persons having formal intervenor status, to be reduced to writing and prefiled with the Commission in advance of any hearing.
(E) Nothing in this section may be interpreted to repeal or modify specific exclusions from Public Service Commission jurisdiction found in Title 58 or any other titles.
Limitation on appearance of members of General Assembly in rate fixing proceedings.
No member of the General Assembly or any member of a member's law-firm shall appear before the Public Service Commission in any rate fixing proceeding representing any party in such proceeding for any purposes including political purposes and it shall be the duty of the presiding commissioner to enforce the provisions of this section. Provided, however, this shall not apply to any member of the General Assembly appearing as a witness on either side of any hearing.
Circuit judge to preside over hearings regarding certain contested rate matters.
The Public Service Commission shall notify the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court of all pending contested rate matters where the amount in controversy in such rate matters is in excess of one million dollars annually. The Chief Justice, when so notified or when otherwise requested to do so by the Chairman of the Commission, shall appoint a circuit judge to preside over the hearings in such cases. Such judge shall have full authority to rule on questions concerning the conduct of the case and the admission of evidence but shall not participate in the determination on the merits of any such case.
During the conduct of such hearings, the judge shall have the same authority to control the proceedings and the conduct of participants therein as he would have in proceedings being heard in the circuit courts of the State.
Powers of Commission with respect to interstate commerce.
The Commission may investigate all existing or proposed interstate rates, fares, tolls, charges and classifications and all rules and practices in relation thereto, for or in relation to the transportation of persons or property, when any act in relation thereto shall take place within this State. When the same are, in the opinion of the Commission, excessive or discriminatory or in violation of the act of Congress entitled "An Act to Regulate Commerce," approved February 4, 1887, and the acts amendatory thereof and supplemental thereto, or of any other act of Congress, or in conflict with the rulings, orders or regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Public Service Commission may apply by petition or otherwise to the Interstate Commerce Commission or to any court of competent jurisdiction for relief.
Appearance by Commission in proceedings before Interstate Commerce Commission.
The Commission may appear and participate in railroad abandonment, railroad extension or any other proceedings before the Interstate Commerce Commission, whenever, in the judgment of the Commission, such proceedings affect the welfare of the State and its people.
Commission empowered to fix agreements, contracts and the like between common carriers and telephone and telegraph companies.
In case of failure on their part to agree the Commission shall supervise and fix all agreements, contracts, rates or the divisions thereof and rules and regulations between or among common carriers and telephone and telegraph companies, of whatever kind, placed under the control or supervision of the Commission.
Except insofar as rates, transactions affecting rates, or transactions affecting service areas are concerned, the provisions of this section do not apply to transactions between a telephone cooperative association and its subsidiary corporation or cooperative association.
Adoption of rules and regulations to effectuate Section 58-3-170.
The Commission shall make such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of Section 58-3-170.
Public utilities and motor carriers shall furnish Public Service Commission certain information.
All persons or corporations that are included within the definition of a "public utility," as defined in Section 58-5-10 as well as every motor vehicle carrier doing business in this State, except such as are municipally owned and operated, shall promptly, when required by the Public Service Commission, furnish to the Commission a full and detailed report and information concerning its business affairs or any matter pertaining thereto, as shall be specified in such requirement, and shall with like promptness answer fully all questions and interrogatories which may be propounded by the Commission.
Procedure for obtaining information from public utilities and motor carriers.
If, in the judgment of the Commission, the information or reports referred to in Section 58-3-190 are not furnished within a reasonable time or the questions or interrogatories referred to in said section are not answered fully within a reasonable time or, if so furnished and answered, are not satisfactory to the Commission, the Commission shall give by written notice to such person or corporation the particulars in which such information, reports or answers to such questions or interrogations are not satisfactory and such person or corporation shall have a reasonable time in which to comply with the requirements of such notice in the particulars therein mentioned.
Procedure for verification of information given by public utilities or motor carriers.
If it is desired for any reason to verify or recheck the information furnished under Sections 58-3-190 or 58-3-200 the Commission, in person or by its agents, shall make such examination of the books, papers, accounts and records of and such inspection of the properties of the persons referred to in Section 58-3-190 as shall be necessary to procure the information required. To that end the Commission may require the production of the desired writings and records and the attendance and testimony under oath of the officers, accountants or other agents of the parties having knowledge thereof at such place as the Commission may designate and the expense of making such necessary examination or inspection for the procuring of such information shall be paid by the party so examined or inspected, to be collected by the Attorney General on behalf of the Commission by suit or action, if necessary, except, that if such examination and inspection and the reports thereof disclose that a full and accurate response had previously been made pursuant to the requirements of the Commission in regard thereto the expense of making such examination and inspection shall be paid out of the funds of the Commission.
Disposition of fines and penalties for failure to comply with orders of Commission.
All penalties and forfeitures collected from railroad, express, telegraph and telephone companies for failure to comply with orders of the Commission shall be paid over one half into the State Treasury and the other half into the county treasury of the county in which the suit is brought imposing the penalty or forfeiture so collected, such revenues accruing from such collections to be used for general State and county purposes.
Conduct of Public Service Commission hearings; authority to eject persons disruptive of hearings.
Hearings conducted before the Public Service Commission shall be conducted under dignified and orderly procedures designed to protect the rights of all parties. All persons appearing in a representative capacity before the Commission in its proceedings should conform to the standards of ethical conduct required of attorneys practicing before the courts of this State. Any person, firm or corporation who disregards Commission orders after due notice or who engages in conduct calculated to bring the due and orderly course of Commission proceedings into disrespect or disregard, or to interfere with or prejudice parties litigant or their witnesses during the proceedings may, by order of the Commission or its presiding officer be ejected for the remainder of that day from such proceedings. If that person, firm or corporation engages in further conduct resulting in ejection for a second day or portion thereof in the same proceeding he shall also be declared in contempt and cited for such to any circuit judge, who may punish by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars or imprisonment not to exceed thirty days, or both. Such proscribed conduct shall include, but not be limited to, any person, firm or corporation intentionally delaying the proceedings by the injection of matters determined not to be relevant after a proper warning that such matters shall not be pursued.
The above provision shall not be construed as limiting any powers of the Commission under existing law.
Definitions; exemption from certain regulations for certain utility services.
(A) As used in this section:
(1) "privately owned industrial park" means a privately owned tract of real property which is used solely for industrial uses, in which the provider of utility services owns or operates an industrial premises and owns or operates facilities for the provision of utility services and on which there is located one or more industrial users. The term "privately owned industrial park" also means those additional tracts as may be subsequently incorporated into the industrial park;
(2) "industrial premises" means a building, structure, plant, or facility which is located in a privately owned industrial park and is owned or leased by an industrial user;
(3) "industrial user" means any person, corporation, or association which is engaged in the business of manufacturing, processing, assembling, fabricating, or related work;
(4) "provider of utility services" means a person, corporation, or association, other than a regulated public utility or its affiliates that offer or provide, or both, utility services to the public or any portion of it outside a privately owned industrial park, which provides any or all of those services which are defined in Chapters 5 and 7 of this title, excluding gas, and subject to regulation by the commission and where the services are provided to an industrial user in a privately owned industrial park; and
(5) "jurisdictional utilities" means those persons, corporations, associations, or political subdivisions which provide services subject to the jurisdiction of the commission under Chapters 5 and 7 of this title, excluding gas.
(B) The provisions of Chapters 5 and 7 of this title, excluding gas, are not applicable to the provision of utility services to industrial users of these services where the industrial users are located in a privately owned industrial park where the provider of utility services and the industrial user have agreed in writing to the terms and conditions for the provision of utility services and where all jurisdictional utilities which would have a right to provide any or all of the utility services have agreed in writing to waive their right to further notice and opportunity for hearing with respect to the written agreement and the provision of the services under the terms of the agreement.
(C) Within twenty days after the execution of a written agreement between a provider of utility services and an industrial user pursuant to subsection (B) of this section, the provider of utility services shall file with the commission, for information only, the written agreement and all waivers executed by jurisdictional utilities pursuant to subsection (B).
LAW ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT
Commission and removal of inspectors.
The law enforcement department of the Public Service Commission shall consist of such officers, inspectors and agents as the commission may deem necessary and proper for the enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Carrier Law and other related laws, the enforcement of which is devolved upon the department. The title of such officers, inspectors and agents shall be "Transportation Division Inspectors." The inspectors shall be commissioned by the Governor upon the recommendation of the commission. The commission may remove an inspector if it finds that he is unfit for the position.
Bond of inspectors.
Each inspector shall execute a bond with a licensed surety company in the amount of not less than ten thousand dollars. The bond shall be filed with the commission and shall be conditioned for the faithful performance of his duties, for the prompt and proper accounting of funds coming into his hands and for the payment of any judgment rendered against him in any court of competent jurisdiction upon a cause of action arising out of breach or abuse of official duty or power and damages sustained by any member of the public from any unlawful act of the inspector. The coverage under the bond shall not include damage to persons or property arising out of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle. The bond may be individual, schedule or blanket, and shall be approved by the Attorney General. The premiums on the bonds shall be paid by the commission from appropriated funds.
Oath of inspectors.
Before entering upon the duties of his office, each inspector shall take and subscribe before a notary public, or other officer authorized to administer an oath, an oath to faithfully perform the duties of his office and to properly execute the laws of this State.
Inspectors to possess and exercise powers and authority of constables.
The inspectors shall possess and exercise all of the powers and authority held by constables at common law.
Enforcement authority of inspectors.
When acting in their official capacity, inspectors shall have statewide authority for the enforcement of all motor vehicle carrier laws and related laws.
Inspectors to insure that violators are prosecuted.
Inspectors shall enforce the Motor Vehicle Carrier Law, and related laws and insure that all persons violating any provision of these laws are properly prosecuted.
When any person is apprehended by an inspector upon a charge of violating the Motor Vehicle Carrier Law or related laws, the following procedure shall be followed:
(1) The person being charged shall be served by the arresting inspector with an official summons and arrest report. The report shall give the appropriate judicial officer jurisdiction to dispose of the case.
(2) The person being charged may deposit with the arresting inspector a sum of money not to exceed one hundred dollars as bail in lieu of being immediately brought before the magistrate or other judicial officer; provided, that an official summons and arrest report may be issued without requiring any sum of money as bail.
(3) The official summons and arrest report shall indicate the amount of bail deposited with the inspector and shall serve as a receipt for the sum.
(4) The arresting inspector shall transmit any sum of money received from the person charged to the appropriate magistrate or other judicial officer.
(5) Upon receipt of the sum of money, if any is required, as bail, the arresting inspector may release the person charged so that he may appear before the proper judicial officer at a time and place stated in, and required by, the official summons and arrest report.