(1) The Florida Public Service Commission shall consist of five commissioners appointed pursuant to s. 350.031. (2)(a) Each commissioner serving on July 1, 1978, shall be permitted to remain in office until the completion of his or her current term. Upon the expiration of the term, a successor shall be appointed in the manner prescribed by s. 350.031 for a 4-year term, except that the terms of the initial members appointed under this act shall be as follows:
1. The vacancy created by the present term ending in January, 1981, shall be filled by appointment for a 4-year term and for 4-year terms thereafter; and
2. The vacancies created by the two present terms ending in January, 1979, shall be filled by appointment for a 3-year term and for 4-year terms thereafter.
(b) Two additional commissioners shall be appointed in the manner prescribed by s. 350.031 for 4-year terms beginning the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January, 1979, and successors shall be appointed for 4-year terms thereafter with each term beginning on January 2 of the year the term commences and ending 4 years later on January 1.
(c) Vacancies on the commission shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term in the same manner as original appointments to the commission.
(3) Any person serving on the commission who seeks to be appointed or reappointed shall file with the nominating council no later than June 1 prior to the year in which his or her term expires a statement that he or she desires to serve an additional term.
(4) One member of the commission shall be elected by majority vote to serve as chair for a term of 2 years, beginning on January 2 of the first year of the term. A member may not serve two consecutive terms as chair.
(5) The primary duty of the chair is to serve as chief administrative officer of the commission; however, the chair may participate in any proceedings pending before the commission when administrative duties and time permit. In order to distribute the workload and expedite the commission’s calendar, the chair, in addition to other administrative duties, has authority to assign the various proceedings pending before the commission requiring hearings to two or more commissioners or to the commission’s staff of hearing examiners under the supervision of the office of general counsel. Only those commissioners assigned to a proceeding requiring hearings are entitled to participate in the final decision of the commission as to that proceeding; provided, if only two commissioners are assigned to a proceeding requiring hearings and cannot agree on a final decision, the chair shall cast the deciding vote for final disposition of the proceeding. If more than two commissioners are assigned to any proceeding, a majority of the members assigned shall constitute a quorum and a majority vote of the members assigned shall be essential to final commission disposition of those proceedings requiring actual participation by the commissioners. If a commissioner becomes unavailable after assignment to a particular proceeding, the chair shall assign a substitute commissioner. In those proceedings assigned to a hearing examiner, following the conclusion of the hearings, the designated hearing examiner is responsible for preparing recommendations for final disposition by a majority vote of the commission. A petition for reconsideration shall be voted upon by those commissioners participating in the final disposition of the proceeding.
(6) A majority of the commissioners may determine that the full commission shall sit in any proceeding. The public counsel or a person regulated by the Public Service Commission and substantially affected by a proceeding may file a petition that the proceeding be assigned to the full commission. Within 15 days of receipt by the commission of any petition or application, the full commission shall dispose of such petition by majority vote and render a written decision thereon prior to assignment of less than the full commission to a proceeding. In disposing of such petition, the commission shall consider the overall general public interest and impact of the pending proceeding, including but not limited to the following criteria: the magnitude of a rate filing, including the number of customers affected and the total revenues requested; the services rendered to the affected public; the urgency of the requested action; the needs of the consuming public and the utility; value of service involved; the effect on consumer relations, regulatory policies, conservation, economy, competition, public health, and safety of the area involved. If the petition is denied, the commission shall set forth the grounds for denial.
(7) This section does not prohibit a commissioner, designated by the chair, from conducting a hearing as provided under ss. 120.569 and 120.57(1) and the rules of the commission adopted pursuant thereto.