Section 2A. The commissioner shall preside at all hearings except as hereinafter provided. The consumer's council shall have the authority to represent the people of the commonwealth in all such hearings and shall be deemed an aggrieved party for the purposes of judicial or administrative review of any decision or ruling in such proceedings. Matters other than those of formal or administrative character may be heard, examined and investigated by an employee of the department designated and assigned thereto by the commissioner. Such employee shall make a report in writing on every such matter to the commissioner for the commissioner's decision thereon. For the purposes of hearing, examining and investigating any such matter such employee shall have all of the powers conferred upon a commissioner by section seventeen, and all pertinent provisions of said section shall apply to such proceedings.