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The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulates three cornerstone service industries in Minnesota's economy, i.e., electricity, natural gas and telephone.

History Snapshot

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.

Mission Statement

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).

Regulatory Environment

In creating and maintaining the proper regulatory environment, the Commission:

  • carries out the duties and responsibilities assigned to it by law;
  • operates in both a quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative capacity;
  • creates rules relating to the conduct of utilities and the procedures under which the Commission operates; provides a forum for resolving disputes between the public and utilities
  • considers the various viewpoints of interested parties, monitors utility operations, initiates investigations and deliberates in the public interest;
  • recognizes societal and technological changes that permit and encourage competition in the market place to the extent that public and utility interests are balanced and protected; and
  • develops and retains competent and dedicated commissioners and staff.

In ensuring that utility services are delivered safely, reliably and efficiently, the Commission:

  • emphasizes the production and consumption of energy resources that will minimize damage to the environment;
  • encourages conservation;
  • implements the state's energy policies;
  • establishes rules related to safety and quality of service;
  • encourages the development and appropriate implementation of new technologies and services for the public.

Decision-Making Authority

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)