A Century Of Service: The PSC Turns 100
The Missouri Public Service Commission celebrated 100 years of service to the citizens of our state on April 15, 2013.
Certainly things have changed in 100 years…….the average annual income in 1913 was $517…..a three bedroom home cost about $2,600 and a new Ford cost $600.
You could get a gallon of milk for 34 cents and a pound of bread could be purchased for six cents.
Utility regulation has changed over that same period as well. From regulating railroads and street cars, to handling telephone divestiture and nuclear power plant rate cases, to energy efficiency and working to meet the future energy needs of all Missourians.
While change has occurred and will continue to occur, the Public Service Commission’s mission remains the same today as it was in April of 1913.
The Commission continues its work to assure Missouri’s rate paying customers receive safe and adequate service at just and reasonable rates.
Formed in 1913, the Public Service Commission replaced the Board of Railroad and Warehouse Commissioners which had been regulating Missouri’s railroads since 1875.
General Assembly passed legislation sponsored by Carroll County Senator William Busby which created the PSC.
Governor Elliott Major, in his inaugural address in 1913, advocated for the Public Service Commission calling its creation “one of the necessities of the hour.”
Governor Major said creating the PSC would not only be to the interest of the public, but also to the interest of the utilities regulated and controlled.
At the end of 1913, the Public Service Commission regulated approximately 877 entities. Approximately 426 were telephone corporations, 155 were electric corporations and municipalities and nearly 100 steam railroad corporations.
The first case -- submitted on April 16th and decided the next day -- was an application filed by the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company which sought approval for a consolidated mortgage and authorization to issue bonds.
Since that time, the PSC has seen its role expand.
In 1927, the Public Service Commission was charged with the development of a program to administer and regulate motor carriers.
Four years later, in 1931, the PSC began the regulation of motor freight carriers and in the late 30s; we regulated freight forwarding or car loading companies.
The Railroad Safety Department became a part of the Commission in July 1957.
Private sewer systems operating as public utilities came under PSC jurisdiction in 1967.
In 1973, the Commission began a program to enforce safety standards for mobile homes and recreational vehicles manufactured or sold in Missouri. Three years later, legislation was passed which transferred to the Commission, the responsibility for mobile home tie downs.
At one time the Commission regulated tow and wrecker service operations and ambulance companies.
In 1974, the Public Service Commission became the first state agency in the United States certified to participate in the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Safety Program.
In the fall of 1976, the PSC opened consumer services offices in Kansas City and St. Louis and the following spring activated a toll-free hotline number for consumer complaints and inquiries.
In the late 1970s, the Commission established the Cold Weather Rule and helped launch Operation Lifesaver, a program aimed at reducing rail crossing accidents.
In the early 1980s, the Commission developed and implemented rules which allow small utility companies to seek a rate increase through a streamlined process.
During the 1990s, programs like Relay Missouri and the Missouri Universal Service Fund were established. Also in the 90s, three new area codes were introduced in the state.
In December 1992, the Commission issued final rules which, for the first time, required utilities to evaluate conservation and energy efficiency as an alternative to the construction of additional power supply facilities.
Rules setting standards for electric companies to follow regarding vegetation management, infrastructure inspections and service reliability; smart grid technology; energy efficiency measures; and cyber security are just a few of the many issues our agency has addressed over the past decade.
In 2011, the Commission finalized rules which are designed to streamline the process for customers filling a complaint against a utility company under the Commission’s jurisdiction.
As the agency moves into its next 100 years, the Public Service Commission will continue to address challenges with the same dedication as it has in the past.