The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and its predecessor agency, the Rhode Island Railroad Commission, have been regulating public utilities in Rhode Island since 1839 (Law enacted June 14, 1939) . In 1912, the state legislature abolished the Railroad Commission and replaced it with the Public Utilities Commission (Public Law 1912, ch. 795.) Headed by a commissioner, the new commission’s regulatory responsibilities were expanded to include gas and electric companies, ferry services, waterworks companies, and telegraphic and cable companies as well as railway and street car companies. The 1912 act stipulated that the PUC was to “take over the documents, literature and other materials” of the Railroad Commission. By the 1950s, the commission had become a division within the Department of Business Regulations. In 1969, the Commissioner was also charged with the administration of a newly established Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (PL 1969, ch. 240.) In 1980, the PUC became a separate agency from the Department of Business Administration (PL 1980, ch. 335.) The Utility Restructuring Act of 1996 established the commission and the division as two separate entities within the PUC, with a Chairman presiding over the commission and an Administrator heading the division (Public Law 1996, Ch. 316, (39-1-3). Since then, the commission and the division have together formed the Public Utilities Commission.
 Hereafter, PUC refers to the commission and the division together. Lower case “division” refers to the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and lower case “commission” refers to the commission rather than the division.