The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has its origins in an 1838 statute that provided for appointment of commissioners in each New Hampshire County having limited powers regarding railroads. This was the first attempt by any state to regulate transportation. The County boards were consolidated into a State Board of Railroad Commissioners in 1844, the first such board in the nation.
In 1911, the New Hampshire Legislature enacted comprehensive legislation which instituted a new system for the establishment and regulation of public utilities and railroads in the state. As a result, the Public Service Commission was created as a state tribunal and given broad supervisory and regulatory powers over public utilities. The name Public Service Commission was changed in 1951 to Public Utilities Commission, its present title. In 1979, the Legislature made the commissioners full-time positions and generally amended the structure and guidelines of the Commission.
On June 26, 1985, Governor John Sununu established the Department of Transportation (DOT) to which the Commission's transportation functions were transferred. The statutory definition of public utility in RSA 362:2 was changed to exclude railroads, passenger carriers, toll bridges, toll roads, carriers of household goods for hire by motor vehicle and motor vehicles carrying property for hire.
Various amendments to RSA 363 in the 1980s removed the Office of the Consumer Advocate (OCA) from the direct control of the Commission, and made it independent of the Commission except for shared use of business office and support functions.
In 1996, the legislature enacted RSA 374-F which initiated the restructuring of the electric utility industry in New Hampshire. The goal of restructuring was to reduce cost and harness the power of a competitive world by introducing customer choice to the generation segment of the electric industry.