Chapter 4901: PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION - ORGANIZATION

4901.01 Definitions.

As used in sections 4901.01 to 4901.24 of the Revised Code:

(A) "Public utility" has the same meaning as in section 4905.02 of the Revised Code.

(B)

"Railroad" has the same meaning as in section 4907.02 of the Revised Code.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.43, SB 162, §1, eff. 9/13/2010.

Effective Date: 09-19-1961

4901.02 Public utilities commission of Ohio.

(A) There is hereby created the public utilities commission of Ohio, by which name the commission may sue and be sued. The commission shall consist of five public utilities commissioners appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The governor shall designate one of such commissioners to be the chairperson of the commission. The chairperson of the commission shall serve as chairperson at the governor's pleasure. The commissioners shall be selected from the lists of qualified persons submitted to the governor by the public utilities commission nominating council pursuant to section 4901.021 of the Revised Code. Not more than three of said commissioners shall belong to or be affiliated with the same political party. The commission shall possess the powers and duties specified in, as well as all powers necessary and proper to carry out the purposes of Chapters 4901., 4903., 4905., 4907., 4909., 4921., 4923., and 4927. of the Revised Code.

(B) A majority of the public utilities commissioners constitutes a quorum.

(C) The terms of office of public utilities commissioners shall be for five years, commencing on the eleventh day of April and ending on the tenth day of April, except that terms of the first commissioners shall be for one, two, three, four, and five years, respectively, as designated by the governor at the time of appointment. Each commissioner shall hold office from the date of appointment until the end of the term for which the commissioner was appointed. Any commissioner appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which the commissioner was appointed shall hold office for the remainder of such term. Any commissioner shall continue in office subsequent to the expiration date of the term for which the commissioner was appointed until the commissioner's successor takes office, or until a period of sixty days has elapsed, whichever occurs first. Each vacancy shall be filled by appointment within sixty days after the vacancy occurs.

(D) Public utilities commissioners shall have at least three years of experience in one or more of the following fields: economics, law, finance, accounting, engineering, physical or natural sciences, natural resources, or environmental studies. At least one commissioner shall be an attorney admitted to the practice of law in any state or the District of Columbia.

(E) The chairperson of the commission shall be the head of the commission and its chief executive officer. The appointment or removal of employees of the commission or any division thereof, and all contracts for special service, are subject to the approval of the chairperson. The chairperson shall designate one of the commissioners to act as deputy chairperson, who shall possess during the absence or disability of the chairperson, all of the powers of the chairperson.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.43, SB 162, §1, eff. 9/13/2010.

Effective Date: 01-11-1983

4901.021 Public utilities commission nominating council.

(A) There is hereby created a public utilities commission nominating council consisting of the following:

(1) The chairperson of the consumers' counsel governing board;

(2) The president of the accountancy board;

(3) The chairperson of the state board of registration for professional engineers and surveyors;

(4) The president of the Ohio state bar association;

(5) The president of the Ohio municipal league;

(6) The director of development or the director's department-employed designee;

(7) A member of the public appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, to serve at the pleasure of the speaker;

(8) A member of the public appointed by the president of the senate, to serve at the pleasure of the president;

(9) A representative of the regulated public utilities of the state appointed by the governor, to serve at the pleasure of the governor;

(10) A representative of the business community appointed by the governor, to serve at the pleasure of the governor;

(11) A representative of organized labor appointed by the governor, to serve at the pleasure of the governor;

(12) A senior citizen sixty-five years of age or older appointed by the director of aging, to serve at the pleasure of the director.

(B) At its first meeting each calendar year, the council shall select from among its members a chairperson and secretary. The council may adopt bylaws governing its proceedings.

(C) The council shall keep a record of its proceedings. Special meetings may be called by the chairperson, and shall be called by the chairperson upon receipt of a written request for a meeting signed by two or more members of the council. Written notice of the time and place of each meeting shall be sent to each member of the council. With the approval of the association's or league's governing body, the president of the Ohio state bar association or the president of the Ohio municipal league, respectively, may designate an alternate to represent the president at meetings of the council. With the approval of the board, the president of the accountancy board or the chairperson of the state board of registration for professional engineers and surveyors may designate such an alternate. Six members, or their alternates, constitute a quorum.

(D) The council shall:

(1) Review and evaluate possible appointees for the office of commissioner of the public utilities commission;

(2) Consistent with division (D) of section 4901.02 of the Revised Code, not more than eighty-five nor less than sixty days prior to the expiration of the term of a public utilities commissioner or not more than thirty days after the death of, resignation of, or termination of service by, a public utilities commissioner, provide the governor with a list of four individuals who are, in the judgment of the council, the most fully qualified to accede to the office of commissioner. The council shall not include the name of an individual upon the list, if the appointment of that individual by the governor would result in more than three members of the commission belonging to or being affiliated with the same political party. The council shall include on the list only the names of attorneys admitted to the practice of law in any state or the District of Columbia if an attorney must be appointed to fulfill the requirement of division (D) of section 4901.02 of the Revised Code. To the extent possible, in its performance of this duty, the council shall continually attempt to ensure that the primary focus of the background of two commissioners is in energy and that the primary focus of the background of two commissioners is in transportation or communications technology.

(E) In reviewing and evaluating possible appointees for the office of public utilities commissioner, the council may accept comments from, cooperate with, and request information from any person. The council may make recommendations to the general assembly concerning changes in legislation to assist the council in the performance of its duties.

(F) Within thirty days of receipt of the council's recommendations, the governor shall fill a vacancy occurring in the office of commissioner by appointment of one of the persons recommended by the council. Nothing in this section shall prevent the governor in the governor's discretion from rejecting all of the nominees of the council and reconvening the council in order to select four additional nominees. However, when the governor has reconvened the council and the council has provided the governor with a second list of four names, the governor shall make the appointment from one of the names on the first list or the second list. Each appointment by the governor shall be subject to the advice and consent of the senate.

(G) Members of the council shall be compensated on a per diem basis pursuant to the procedures set forth in section 124.14 of the Revised Code plus reasonable travel expenses. All the expenses of the nominating council shall be paid from moneys appropriated to the public utilities commission for that purpose.

Effective Date: 09-29-1995

4901.03 Official seal.

The public utilities commission shall have a seal bearing the following inscription: "The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio." The seal shall be affixed to all writs and authentications of copies of records and to such other instruments as the commission directs. All courts shall take judicial notice of said seal.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.04 Persons eligible to become commissioner.

No person in the employ of or holding any official relation to any person, corporation, or utility, which person, corporation, or utility is subject, in whole or in part, to regulation by the public utilities commission, and no person holding stocks or bonds of, or in any manner pecuniarily interested in, any such corporation or utility shall be appointed to the office of public utilities commissioner or be appointed or employed by the commission. If such person becomes the owner of such stocks or bonds, or becomes pecuniarily interested in such corporation or utility otherwise than voluntarily, he shall, within a reasonable time, divest himself of such ownership or interest. If he fails to do so, his office or employment shall become vacant.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.05 [Effective Until 9/15/2014] Qualifications.

Each public utilities commissioner shall be a bona fide resident of this state and shall not, during his term of office, hold any other office under the government of the United States, or of this state, or of any political subdivision thereof, either of trust or profit. No commissioner shall engage in any occupation or business inconsistent with his duties as commissioner, but shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.05 [Effective 9/15/2014] Qualifications.

Each public utilities commissioner shall be a bona fide resident of this state and shall not, during the commissioner's term of office, hold any other office of trust or profit. No commissioner shall engage in any occupation or business inconsistent with the commissioner's duties as commissioner, but shall devote entire time to the duties of that office.

As used in this section only, "office of trust or profit" means:

(A) A federal or state elective office or an elected office of a political subdivision of the state;

(B) A position on a board or commission of the state that is appointed by the governor;

(C) An office set forth in section 121.03, 121.04, or 121.05 of the Revised Code;

(D) An office of the government of the United States that is appointed by the president of the United States.

Amended by 130th General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 483, §101.01, eff. 9/15/2014.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.06 Oath - bond.

Before entering upon the duties of his office each public utilities commissioner shall take and subscribe to an oath of office, in writing, which shall be filed in the office of the secretary of state, and shall give a bond of five thousand dollars, with a sufficient surety approved by the treasurer of state; after such approval the bond shall be filed with the secretary of state. If such bond is executed by a surety company the premiums on it shall be paid from the funds appropriated for the expense of the public utilities commission.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.07 Removal of public utilities commissioner.

The governor may remove any public utilities commissioner for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or a failure to abide by sections 4901.04 or 4903.081 of the Revised Code, [or] malfeasance in office, giving to such commissioner a copy of the charges against him and an opportunity to be publicly heard, in person or by counsel, in his own defense, upon not less than ten days' notice. If such commissioner is removed, the governor shall file a complete statement of all charges made against such commissioner, his findings on such charges, and a complete record of the proceedings with the secretary of state. The governor's decision is final.

Effective Date: 01-11-1983

4901.08 Quorum.

A majority of the public utilities commissioners constitutes a quorum for the transaction of any business, for the performance of any duty, or for the exercise of any power of the public utilities commission. No vacancy in the commission shall impair the right of the remaining commissioners to exercise all powers of the commission. The act of a majority of the commission, when in session as a board, is the act of the commission. Any investigation, inquiry, or hearing which the commission has power to undertake or to hold may be undertaken or held by or before any commissioner designated for such purpose by the commission, and every finding, order, or decision made by a commissioner so designated, pursuant to such investigation, inquiry, or hearing, and approved and confirmed by the commission and ordered filed in its office, is the finding, order, or decision of the commission.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.09 Payment of expenses.

All expenses incurred by the public utilities commission pursuant to Chapters 4901., 4903., 4905., 4907., 4909., 4921., 4923., and 4925. of the Revised Code, including the actual and necessary traveling and other expenses and disbursements of the commission, its officers and employees, incurred while on the business of the commission, shall be paid from funds appropriated for the use of the commission after being approved by the commission. An itemized statement of such expenses, when signed and submitted by the person who incurred them, shall be audited and paid in the same manner as other expenses.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.10 Location of office - sessions.

The office of the public utilities commission shall be at the seat of government in Columbus, in suitable quarters provided by the state, and shall be open between eight-thirty a.m. and five-thirty p.m. throughout the year, Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays excepted. The commission shall hold its sessions at least once in each calendar month in Columbus, but also may meet at such other times and places as are necessary for the proper performance of its duties. For the purpose of holding sessions in places other than the seat of government, the commission may rent quarters or offices, the expense of which, in connection therewith, shall be paid in the same manner as other authorized expenses.

Effective Date: 09-29-1997

4901.11 Equipment and supplies.

The public utilities commission may procure all necessary books, maps, charts, stationery, instruments, office furniture, apparatus, and appliances, including telephone service, and may purchase from the interstate commerce commission blank forms for the use of railroads and other utilities in making their annual reports, necessary for the proper administration of the affairs of the public utilities commission, which expenses shall be audited and paid in the same manner as other expenses.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.43, SB 162, §1, eff. 9/13/2010.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.12 All proceedings public records.

Except as provided in section 149.43 of the Revised Code and as consistent with the purposes of Title XLIX [49] of the Revised Code, all proceedings of the public utilities commission and all documents and records in its possession are public records.

Effective Date: 09-17-1996

4901.13 Publication of rules governing proceedings.

The public utilities commission may adopt and publish rules to govern its proceedings and to regulate the mode and manner of all valuations, tests, audits, inspections, investigations, and hearings relating to parties before it. All hearings shall be open to the public.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.14 Qualifications for practice in determination of transportation matters.

Any person who is a citizen of the United States who is a regular salaried employee of the person, firm, or corporation directly concerned, or a chamber of commerce in matters of a general character in which the majority of its members are directly concerned, and who manifests to the satisfaction of the public utilities commission that he possesses the necessary qualifications to enable him to render valuable service before the commission and that he is otherwise competent to advise and assist in the presentation of matters before the commission incident to the transportation of passengers or property and facilities pertaining thereto, shall be permitted to appear before the commission in the determination of transportation matters involving questions of fact only. Accredited representatives of organized labor may participate in hearings before the commission in matters relative to the enforcement of safety laws.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.15 Information furnished by commission.

The public utilities commission shall, whenever called upon by any officer, board, or commission of this state or any political subdivision of this state, furnish any data or information to such officer, board, or commission and shall aid or assist any such officer, board, or commission in performing official duties . All officers, boards, or commissions of this state or any political subdivision of this state shall furnish to the commission, upon request, any data or information that will assist the commission in the discharge of the duties imposed upon it by Chapters 4901., 4903., 4905., 4907., 4909., 4921., 4923., and 4927. of the Revised Code.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.43, SB 162, §1, eff. 9/13/2010.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.16 Penalty for divulging information.

Except in his report to the public utilities commission or when called on to testify in any court or proceeding of the public utilities commission, no employee or agent referred to in section 4905.13 of the Revised Code shall divulge any information acquired by him in respect to the transaction, property, or business of any public utility, while acting or claiming to act as such employee or agent. Whoever violates this section shall be disqualified from acting as agent, or acting in any other capacity under the appointment or employment of the commission.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.17 Legal adviser and attorney.

The attorney general shall be the legal adviser of the public utilities commission, but he shall designate, subject to the approval of the governor, one or more of his assistants to perform the services and discharge the duties of attorney to the commission. Such specially designated counsel shall receive a salary which shall be paid in the same manner as that of the members of the commission.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.18 Examiners.

The public utilities commission shall appoint one or more examiners for the purpose of making any investigation or holding any inquiry or hearing which the commission is required or permitted to make or hold. Such examiners may administer oaths, take depositions, issue subpoenas, compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, accounts, papers, records, documents, and testimony, examine witnesses, receive evidence, certify to official acts, and perform such other duties as are prescribed by the commission. The commission shall, by general order or in its order of appointment, prescribe the authority and duties of such examiners. Unless otherwise provided in the order appointing the examiner, such examiner shall report his findings and recommendations to the commission and file with it the testimony taken before him. The findings and recommendations of such examiner are advisory only and do not preclude the commission from taking further evidence. Any such findings made or order recommended by any such examiner, which are approved and confirmed, or modified, by the commission and filed in its office, are the findings and order of the commission.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.19 Employees of commission - duties of secretary or other officer.

The public utilities commission may appoint a secretary, attorney examiners, experts, engineers, accountants, and such other officers as it considers necessary, who shall be in the classified civil service except for persons in attorney examiner or supervisory policy-making positions, who shall serve at the pleasure of the commission. The commission's discretion as to whether or not a position is an attorney examiner position or a supervisory policy-making position shall be exercised upon the affirmative vote of at least four commissioners. All vouchers for the payment of officers, experts, examiners, engineers, statisticians, accountants, inspectors, stenographers, clerks, and other employees of the commission shall be approved by two public utilities commissioners. The secretary, or such other officer as is designated by the commission, shall keep a complete record of all proceedings of the commission, issue all necessary process, writs, warrants, and notices, and keep all books, maps, documents, and papers ordered filed by the commission, or approved and confirmed by it and ordered filed. Such secretary or other officer shall be responsible to the commission for the custody and safe preservation of all documents in its office. Under the direction of the commission, the secretary or any other officer shall perform such duties as the commission prescribes. The secretary and attorney examiners may administer oaths in all parts of the state insofar as the exercise of such power is properly incidental to the performance of their duties or the duties of the commission.

Effective Date: 09-29-1997

4901.20 [Repealed].

Effective Date: 01-11-1983

4901.21 Employment of Ohio state university engineers and experts.

In the employment of engineers, experts, or other assistants the public utilities commission may make use of engineers and experts employed in the Ohio state university in such manner as is provided by mutual arrangement between the commission and the trustees and faculty of such university. Any information, data, and equipment of such university shall be placed at the disposal of the commission.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.22 Power of commissioners to administer oaths.

Each of the public utilities commissioners, for the purposes mentioned in Chapters 4901., 4903., 4905., 4907., 4909., 4921., 4923., and 4927. of the Revised Code, may administer oaths, certify to official acts, issue subpoenas, and compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of papers, waybills, books, accounts, documents, and testimony.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.43, SB 162, §1, eff. 9/13/2010.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.23 Right of commissioners and employees to pass on vehicles of common carrier.

The public utilities commissioners and the attorney, secretary, other officers, and employees of the public utilities commission may, when in the performance of their official duties, pass free of charge on all railroads, cars, vessels, and other vehicles of every common carrier, subject to control or regulation by the commission, between points within this state, and such persons shall not be denied the right to travel upon any railroad, car, vessel, or other vehicle of such common carrier, whether such railroad, car, vessel, or other vehicle is used for the transportation of passengers or freight, and regardless of its class.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.24 Acceptance of gifts prohibited.

No public utilities commissioner, attorney to the public utilities commission, secretary to the commission, or person employed or appointed to office by the commission or by its attorney shall accept any gift, gratuity, emolument, or employment from any public utility or railroad or any officer, agent, or employee of a public utility or railroad or solicit, suggest, request, or recommend, directly or indirectly, to any person, corporation, or public utility subject to the supervision of the commission, or to any officer, attorney, agent, or employee thereof, the appointment of any person to any office, place, position, or employment. Whoever violates this section shall be removed from office.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

4901.99 Penalty.

(A) Whoever violates section 4901.16 of the Revised Code shall be fined not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953