COLUMBIA -- A quasi-judicial body that can decide when consumers’ water rates go up should raise its public profile, says one state lawmaker on Wednesday during a subcommittee meeting on the S.C. Public Service Commission.
“It remains somewhat of a mystery to many people as to what a PSC commissioner is and does and what ya’ll do,” said Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, addressing Jocelyn Boyd, chief clerk and administrator for the seven-person commission.
“You obviously provide a very valuable service to the citizens,” he said. “I know you have primary duties, having the hearings and doing the work. But to the extent there’s public relations work to be done by the commission, I think it’s important to get out in the community and talk to various groups.”
Boyd said the commission would work on his suggestion.
The Public Service Commission consists of one commissioner from each congressional district, plus an at-large member. Commissioners are elected to four-year terms by a joint session of the S.C. General Assembly and take on issues involving investor-owned electric and gas utility companies, water and wastewater companies, telecommunications companies, motor carriers of household goods, hazardous waste disposal, and taxicabs, according to its website.
The full State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee is expected to review the PSC’s draft strategic plan on Oct. 26, which was given preliminary approval by the subcommittee Wednesday.
Boyd said after the meeting that elements of the draft remained fluid. The details of the draft plan include the creation of an agency ethics policy and an ethics advisory committee, researching video capabilities for hearings, and other efforts.
However, the most recent local controversy surrounding the PSC was not about ethics but instead “compassion.”
In 2009, residents of the rural communities of Graniteville and Vaucluse in Aiken County sought relief from water provider Avondale Mills’ drastic rate increase. When the PSC instead sided with the company, Rep. Roland Smith, R-Warrenville, who had teamed up with other state legislators from the Aiken County delegation on behalf of their constituents, said the PSC, “didn’t show any compassion for the citizens.”