The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulates three cornerstone service industries in Minnesota's economy, i.e., electricity, natural gas and telephone.
Rate regulation in Minnesota began with the appointment of a railroad commissioner in 1871 and the establishment of a Railroad and Warehouse Commission in 1895. Minnesota telephone companies have been regulated since 1915. In 1975 Minnesota became the 48th state to regulate the rates of natural gas and electric utilities.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's mission is to create and maintain a regulatory environment that ensures safe, reliable and efficient utility services at fair and reasonable rates (Minnesota Statutes, Chapters 216A, 216B, 216E, 216F, 216G and 237).
In creating and maintaining the proper regulatory environment, the Commission:
In ensuring that utility services are delivered safely, reliably and efficiently, the Commission:
The Commission is deliberately structured to have a significant degree of independent decision-making autonomy. M.S. § 216A.037 requires a Code of Conduct specifically for the Commission which is intended to strengthen the Commission's objectivity and independence. The Commission's Standards of Conduct are codified in Minnesota Rules Chapter 7845 Subpart 1 which clearly illustrates the overall intent:
Commissioners shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.
Standards of Conduct
The Standards of Conduct also include specific restrictions on employment, investments and gifts; strict prohibitions regarding ex parte communications and conflicts of interest. In addition, M.S. § 216A.03 specifies certain requirements the Governor must consider when removing members and filling commissioner vacancies. The Commission is subject to the Open Meeting Law (M.S. 13D.01)