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November 01, 2012 08:01 AM

How Does the PUC Affect You?

You could argue that the race for South Dakota's lone US House seat is the most heated right now in the state. But, the race for Public Utilities Commission could be a close second.

The PUC makes decisions that affect the public every day. And because they are elected officials, their job is to look out for their constituent's best interest.

South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission consists of three elected seats that are staggered six-year terms. According to the commission's website, they also have a staff of analysts, attorneys and other people who help the commissioners do their job. And that comes with some big responsibilities.

The amount on your utility bills can come down to the decisions the commission makes. They have the regulatory right to allow or deny rate increases for publicly owned electric, natural gas and telephone companies in the state along with letting pipelines, like the Keystone XL Pipeline, be built here. They also have to ensure that the services those companies provide are safe and reliable.

The commission also helps resolve any disputes between who's paying the bill and who's offering the service. So if you have an issue with your power or gas company and can’t get it resolved on your own, the PUC is your next step.

Some of their lesser known duties are compiling the "Do Not Call" list and inspecting state public grain buyers and warehouses. They also do their best to educate people on the best ways to use and conserve energy.

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