The Commission currently regulates, to varying degrees, approximately 2,162 utility companies throughout the state with combined jurisdictional revenues of approximately $11 billion per year. These utilities provide a major part of the essential infrastructure necessary for all commerce and industry within the state; they have an enormous impact on the economy of North Carolina. These utilities provide service to the using and consuming public within North Carolina and include the following:
- Electric ─ 3 investor-owned companies and 2 university-owned companies;
- Natural Gas ─ 5 local distribution companies and 1 intrastate gas pipeline company;
- Telecommunications ─ 16 incumbent local exchange companies, 173 competing local providers, 306 interexchange long distance carriers, 67 payphone service providers, and 19 shared tenant service providers;
- Transportation ─ 255 household goods moving companies, 4 bus companies, 15 passenger brokers, and 17 passengers-only ferryboat operators;
- Water and Wastewater ─ 119 water and wastewater providers and 872 water and wastewater resale providers
- Other ─ 281 small power producers and 8 electric merchant plants.
In addition, the Commission has regulatory oversight over natural gas pipeline safety within the state.
The Commission does not regulate the rates and services of telephone cooperatives or electric cooperatives or municipal utilities. It does, however, have complaint jurisdiction over electric membership corporations (EMCs) in matters involving inadequate, insufficient, or unreasonably discriminatory service pursuant to G.S. 62-42. EMC's and municipalities are also required to obtain certificates from the Commission to construct electric generating facilities pursuant to G.S. 62-110.1 and certificates to construct electric transmission lines of 161 kilovolts or larger pursuant to G.S. 62-101.
The duties of the Commission with respect to the regulated utilities affect the using and consuming public in three major ways. First, no public utility can begin the construction or operation of any utility plant or system in North Carolina or acquire ownership or control thereof without first obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Commission. Second, as a general rule, the Commission has the responsibility under the law to fix, for each public utility, the rates that it may charge for its services to its customers. The Commission is required to set just and reasonable rates that are fair both to the public utility and to its customers. Third, the Commission has authority over the manner in which the utility companies provide service to their customers. The Commission requires public utilities to provide reasonable and reliable service and to adopt safety rules and regulations for the protection of the public.
With respect to the regulation of public utilities, the major issues facing the Commission today include:
- Generation, transmission, nuclear waste disposal, Clean Smokestacks Bill & other environmental issues, GreenPower, wholesale/retail competition, efficiency, conservation, and renewables.
- Natural Gas
- High and volatile gas prices, need for new sources of gas, and need for pipeline and storage capacity nationwide.
- Transition to competitive marketplace, market failures, instability in competitive marketplace, broadband deployment, service quality, intercarrier compensation, universal service, corporate and technological convergence, and technological innovation.
- Water & Wastewater
- Supply, environmental issues, and industry consolidation.
- Financial market pressures, storm impacts, emergency preparedness, accounting issues, merger conditions, and State versus Federal regulatory authority issues.