Appearing as a Public Witness Before The Georgia Public Service Commission
A public witness is an individual (representing himself/herself or an entity) who does not make a formal request to intervene in a proceeding before the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC or Commission), but wishes to make comments that become a part of the official transcript of the case.
Appearing as a public witness in a case before the Commission can be pretty daunting to some people. The hearing room is set up like a courtroom. Proceedings are conducted in a manner similar to cases heard in a court. There are five commissioners (who serve in a capacity likened to judges), staff attorneys (who represent staff’s interest) and intervenors (parties of record who have an interest in the case) and the utility company. Testimony is given by witnesses on behalf of staff, intervenors and the company, as well as by public witnesses. At the scheduled Administrative Session, the Commissioners make a decision based upon the evidence that was presented during the hearing.
Following are some tips to make your experience as a public witness as simple as possible. Depending upon the number of people who sign up to speak as public witnesses, the amount of time allotted for individual comments may be limited.
- Write your comments on a piece of paper. Doing so will help keep you focused on the key points you wish to make when addressing the Commission.
- If you prefer to have your written comments entered into the record as though read, you may make the request during the hearing in the event you are unable to complete your testimony or if you decide that you would rather not make a verbal presentation.
- Bring an extra copy of any testimony or handouts you wish to be entered into the official record.
- Arrive about 30 minutes before the hearing begins to give yourself time to settle down, sign-in to speak, and to become familiar with your surroundings.
- You should begin your testimony by stating your name and the name of the organization you represent, if applicable. When speaking, look at the Commissioners.
- Make sure you speak clearly and loudly into the microphone – adjust the microphone if necessary.
- Limit your comments to matters that are relevant to the case before the Commission.
- If someone makes a point you wanted to make, rather than repeating it, you may make a statement similar to, “I agree with Mr. Jones’ statement regarding _____,” and then make your other points.
Be cognizant of the amount time you’ve been given to make your comments. In order to insure that all public witnesses have an opportunity to be heard, please conclude your comments within the allotted time or when requested to do so.
- Finish your presentation with a statement that indicates you have nothing further to say, such as: “Thank you for your time today.” or “That concludes my comments.” This way, the Commission will be sure that you have finished speaking and were not merely pausing.
For more information, contact us at:
Georgia Public Service Commission
244 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
1-800-282-5813 (outside metro-Atlanta), press 2
404-656-4501 (local), press 2