April 2012

Who they are and what they do... What began as the Railroad Commission of Georgia in 1879 is known today as the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC regulates telecommunications, transportation, electric and natural gas services statewide.

"The PSC acts as a replacement for competition in industries that don't have competition," said Jim Bottone, regulatory affairs director for Walton EMC Natural Gas. "Their job is to ensure Georgia citizens receive reliable services from regulated utilities at a reasonable price."

Not to be confused with consumer advocate groups, the PSC's role is to balance the needs of Georgia's citizens and the rate of return for utilities. Natural gas marketers are regulated by the PSC on many parts of the business except for setting monthly gas rates.

To become a gas marketer in Georgia, a company must be approved by the PSC and abide by strict standards on billing, customer service and marketing practices.

Issued monthly on their website as a service to natural gas customers in Georgia, the Natural Gas Marketer Scorecard reflects the number of complaints and general questions the PSC receives about each marketer in three categories: billing, service and deceptive marketing.

Utilities regulated by the PSC also have quality standards that hold companies accountable and promote good service. For example, the PSC requires Walton EMC Natural Gas answer 80 percent of its phone calls within three minutes on average.

To promote safety and awareness, the PSC developed the statewide "Smell Gas? Act Fast!" campaign to educate consumers on what to do if they smell gas.

Though every state has a PSC, not all function the same way. Georgia’s PSC consists of five elected commissioners that serve staggered six-year terms. There are also 90 staff members trained to investigate and resolve disputes between utility companies and their customers.

Read other articles from The Walton EMC Gasette:
Stop the Roller Coaster - Sign Up for Levelized Billing
Gas Up the Stove with Zucchini Casserole
Smell Gas? Act Fast!