[photo, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland] To regulate public utilities and transportation companies conducting business in Maryland, the Public Service Commission was established in 1910 (Chapter 180, Acts of 1910). These utilities and companies concern electric, gas, telephone, water and sewage disposal companies; passenger motor vehicle carriers (sedans, limousines, and charter buses); railroads; and toll bridges. The Commission also oversees taxicabs operating in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Cumberland, and Hagerstown. Additionally, it sets rates for Bay pilots and docking masters.

William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

The Commission sets utility rates and deals with rate adjustments. It also decides matters relating to applications to exercise franchises; approval of issuance of securities; promulgation of new rules and regulations; and quality of utility and common carrier service. It has authority to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in connection with an application to construct or modify a generating plant or high-voltage overhead transmission lines of a certain capacity.

To supervise and regulate the activities of public utilities, common carriers, and taxicab companies under its jurisdiction, the Commission has broad authority. The General Assembly has provided that "the powers of the Commission shall be liberally construed" so that they may effectively deal with the dynamic nature of public service companies (Code Public Utility Companies Article, sec. 2-112). 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; and addresses consumer complaints. It promulgates and enforces rules and regulations, defends its decisions on appeal to State courts, and intervenes in relevant cases before federal regulatory commissions and courts.

The Commission may make joint investigations, hold joint hearings, and issue joint or other concurrent orders in conjunction with any official state or federal board or commission under agreements and compacts between states, under the concurrent powers of states to regulate interstate commerce as an agency of the federal government, or otherwise (Code Public Utilities Article, secs. 2-120).

Each utility and common carrier under Commission jurisdiction is assessed a proportionate share of the Commission's direct and indirect expenses.

Appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent, the Commission's five members serve five-year terms. The Governor names the chair. Appointed by the Commission, the General Counsel is an attorney-at-law of the State (Code Public Utilities Article, secs. 1-101 through 13-207).

The Office of External Relations investigates complaints from consumers concerning gas, electric, telephone and water service and mediates disputes between consumers and utility companies based on applicable laws, regulations, and tariffs. To consumers and consumer groups, trade organizations, financial institutions, elected officials, and the public, the Office provides educational information about the Commission and its decisions, utilities, and suppliers.


Formed as the Hearing Examiner Division, the Public Utility Law Judge Division received its present name in September 2011.

Applications for the construction of power plants and high-voltage transmission lines are heard and decided upon by the Division's Public Utility Law Judges. They also conduct hearings and rates for gas, electric and telephone companies; rate adjustment's for purchased gas and electricity; plant and equipment depreciation and consumer complaints not resolved at the administrative level. In addition, they hear matters relating to taxicab permit holders and drivers' licenses.

The Chief Public Utility Law Judge reports directly to the Public Service Commission (Code Public Utilities Article, sec. 2-108).

[photo, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland]


The Executive Director supervises the work of the Commission's technical staff. In addition to daily regulatory oversight, the Executive Director coordinates analyses of utility filings, formulation of staff policy positions, and presentation of testimony in formal and informal proceedings.

Under the Executive Director are eight divisions: Accounting Investigations; Electricity; Energy Analysis and Planning; Engineering; Staff Attorney; Telecommunications, Gas and Water; and Transportation.

William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


The Accounting Investigations Division audits the financial filings of regulated public utilities. It conducts audits of utility fuel costs and natural gas procurement strategies, and advises the Commission during periodic fuel-cost hearings. The Division also provides advice to the Commission on regulation, revenue requirements, recovery of Clean Air Act expenditures, and utility management audits.


Initiated in 2008, the Electricity Division conducts economic financial and policy analyses relevant to the regulation of electric utilities. It studies and reports to the Commission on electricity retail markets, concerns of low-income consumers, and other related issues.


The Energy Analysis and Planning Division traces back to the formation of the Integrated Resource Planning Division in 1993. In 2006, it became the Energy Resources and Markets Division, and in 2010 the Division returned to its original name. In January 2011, it merged with the Demand-Side Management Division (created in 2008) to form Energy Planning and Analysis. It reorganized under its present name in May 2011.

The Division reviews and monitors electric and gas utilitiy energy efficiency, conservation, demand reduction, and related programs. To help meet energy and demand reduction targets, the Division tracks goals, reviews programs, and monitors results.

Power supply plans, applications for electric generating plant construction, Clean Air Act compliance plans, load management and conservation programs, and other issues which impact the long-term public interest also are analyzed by the Division.In addition, the Division develops and updates the Ten-Year Plan of Maryland Electric Utilities.


The operations of public service companies are monitored by the Engineering Division. The Division inspects the facilities and checks them for safety and efficiency. The Division also inspects the operating records of utility companies; investigates utility service problems; and tests gas, electric and water meters for accuracy. For power plants and high-voltage transmission lines, the Division evaluates construction requests and assures that natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines meet federal safety requirements.


In all matters pending before the Commission, the Staff Attorney Division coordinates staff positions and provides legal representation for staff witnesses before the Commission. The Division also reviews utility applications, witness testimony, and the comments of the Commission's technical staff. In addition, the Division coordinates the development of regulations, and answers inquiries from legislators, utilities, regulators, and consumers.


In 2008, the Telecommunications, Gas and Water Division was created from the Telecommunications Division. For the Commission, the Division regulates the delivery of wholesale and retail telecommunications services; retail natural gas services; privately owned for-profit water services; and privately owned sewage disposal services. The Division also provides testimony in contested cases before the Commission.


The Transportation Division oversees the regulation of transportation companies operating in intrastate commerce in Maryland. The Division monitors vehicle safety; limits of liability insurance; schedules of operation; and rates and service for all regulated carriers, except railroads. Moreover, the Division licenses drivers of taxicabs in Baltimore City, Cumberland, and Hagerstown, and other passenger-for-hire vehicles carrying fifteen or fewer passengers.


Responsible for the daily operations of the Commission, the Executive Secretary is the principal contact for federal and State agencies, and commissions, or companies doing business with the Public Service Commission. For the Commission, the Executive Secretary oversees information technology, fiscal and budget matters, personnel, purchasing, and procurement.

Records of all proceedings, filed documents, orders, regulation decisions, dockets, and files are kept by the Executive Secretary. The Office also oversees case management; expert services procurement; order preparation; regulation development and coordination; and tariff maintenance.

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