The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulates three cornerstone service industries in Minnesota's economy, i.e., electricity, natural gas and telephone. Commission staff consists of approximately 50 permanent full-time staff. The Commission's mission is to protect and promote the public's interest in safe, adequate and reliable utility services at fair, reasonable rates. It does so by providing independent, consistent, professional and comprehensive oversight and regulation of utility service providers. One of the key functions of the commission in performing this mission is to balance the private and public interests affected in each docket, and to make decisions that appropriately balance these interests in a manner that is “consistent with the public interest.”
The Commission is a quasi-judicial body whose authority, powers and functions resemble those of a court or a judge. The Commission must be objective in determining facts and drawing conclusions of law that justify its decisions or official actions. Commission decisions depend on a set of guidelines or criteria to assess the relief sought and are enforceable under the law. Minnesota law defines the Commission's function and conduct in Minnesota Statutes, Chapters 216A, 216B, 216E-G and 237.
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. In 2005, the Minnesota Legislature delegated to the Commission the duties of siting, routing and permitting of large electric generating plants, wind energy systems, high voltage transmission lines and certain pipelines.