(a) The Utilities Commission shall sit in panels of three commissioners each unless the chairman by order shall set the proceeding for hearing by the full Commission.
(b) Any order or decision made unanimously by a panel of three commissioners shall constitute the order or decision of the Commission, except as otherwise provided in this Chapter; provided, however, that upon motion of any three commissioners not sitting on the panel, made within 10 days of issuance of such order or decision of the panel, with notice to parties of record, the order or decision of the panel shall thereby be stayed and the full Commission shall review the order or decision of the panel and shall within 30 days of said motion either affirm or modify the order or decision of the panel or remand the matter to the panel for further proceedings; provided that the foregoing shall not limit the right of parties to seek review of such order or decision under G.S. 62‑90.
(c) In the event an order or decision of the panel of three is not made unanimously, such order or decision shall be a recommended order only, subject to review by the full Commission, with all commissioners eligible to participate in the final arguments and decision. Review shall take place in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 62‑78 and the Commission shall decide the matter in controversy and make appropriate order or decision thereon within 60 days of the date of the recommended order. If within the filing period specified by the panel no exception has been filed by a party, or if the Commission within the same period has not advised the parties that it will conduct a review upon its own motion, the recommended order or decision shall become the final order or decision of the Commission. Nothing in this section shall amend or repeal the provisions of G.S. 62‑134.
(d) This section shall become effective July 1, 1975, and shall not affect the utilization of or the procedures outlined for utilization of a hearing commissioner or a hearing examiner as provided for elsewhere in Chapter 62. (1975, c. 243, s. 4; 1977, c. 468, s. 13.)