Mission Statement, History & Responsibility
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (Commission) is an administrative agency that hears evidence in cases filed before it and makes decisions based on the evidence presented in those cases. An advocate of neither the public nor the utilities, the Commission is required by state statute to make decisions in the public interest to ensure the utilities provide safe and reliable service at just and reasonable rates.
The Commission also serves as a resource to the legislature, executive branch, state agencies, and the public by providing information regarding Indiana’s utilities and the regulatory process. In addition, Commission members and staff are actively involved with regional, national, and federal organizations regarding utility issues affecting Indiana.
Originally established to regulate railroad activity, the Commission has undergone great change since it was established as the Railroad Commission in the late 1800s. In 1913, the agency was given regulatory responsibility over electric, natural gas, water, private sewer, common carrier (trucking), and telephone services, and it was renamed the Public Service Commission. In 1987, the Indiana General Assembly changed the name of the agency once again and the Public Service Commission became the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
In its current role, the Commission no longer regulates common carriers but does oversee more than 600 utilities that operate in Indiana. The Commission regulates electric, natural gas, steam, water, and wastewater utilities. These utilities may be investor-owned, municipal, not-for-profit, or cooperative utilities, or they might operate as water conservancy districts. The Commission's authority over municipal wastewater utilities is limited to petitions and disputes regarding rates and charges and services territories for customers outside of the municipal corporate boundaries.
Indiana statutes allow municipal utilities, not-for-profit corporations, and electric companies to remove themselves from certain aspects of the Commission's authority (such as rates and charges) by ordinance of the local governing body or by a majority vote of the people in the municipality.
The Commission regulates various aspects of the public utilities' business including the rates, financing, bonding, environmental compliance plans, and service territories. The Commission has regulatory oversight concerning construction projects and acquisition of additional plants and equipment. The Commission has authority to initiate investigations of all utilities' rates and practices.
The Commission receives its authority from Title 8 of the Indiana Code. Numerous court decisions further define the Commission's function. The Commission also promulgates its "Rules and Regulations Concerning Practice and Procedure" as well as "Rules and Regulations and Standards of Service" to govern each type of utility.
The Commission is overseen by five commissioners who are appointed by the governor. Three of the commissioners, including the chairman, are of the same political party as the governor. The commissioners are appointed to four-year terms.
The Commission has a total professional staff of about 75 people, the majority of which are attorneys, engineers, accountants, and economists who advise the Commission on pending cases and other issues. The Commission also has a Consumer Affairs Division that serves as a liaison between utility customers and the utilities.