"A REASONABLE RETURN"
The regulation of businesses legally recognized as being affected with a public interest has had a long and stormy history in New York. One of the major problems confronting regulatory bodies has been the determination of the extent of coverage included in the term "affected with a public interest."
During the early part of the nineteenth century, states exercised supreme authority within their boundaries by means of special charters to local utilities. This was followed by cities granting local franchises, under the influence of the home rule movement. Not until the first decade of the twentieth century were state public service or railroad commissions created with varying degrees of authority.
During the twentieth century New York and Wisconsin led the states in establishing public service commissions with broad authority and regulatory power over local as well as interlocality operations. Prior to 1907, the New York legislature had sought to supervise utilities by stating annual maximum rates. This unscientific system, which insured logrolling and corruption, was corrected when, following the revelations of the insurance investigation, Governor Charles Evans Hughes fought valiantly to secure legislative approval for a public service commission to supervise the activities of utility companies. 1
During the intervening years between 1907 and 1928 the commission came to consider itself more and more a court between the public on one side and the utility companies on the other. After he became Governor, Roosevelt was plagued with endless complaints concerning the partiality of the Public