On August 12, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. There were no telecommunication items on the regular agenda, but the Commission adopted fiscal year 2011-2012 budgets for the California High Cost Fund A, California High Cost Fund B, and the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program. In a Commissioner report, Commissioner Bohn also summarized recent developments related to American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding. These and other telecommunications items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are discussed in further detail below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
California High Cost Fund-A Expense Budget Adopted for Fiscal Year 2011-2012, Resolution T-17283 (Item 17, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission established a 2011-2012 program budget for the California High Cost Fund A (CHCF-A). The Communications Division (CD) estimated the CHCF-A $56.283 million budget by using the recipient carriers’ estimates of expected funding, estimates from the Commission’s Fiscal Office for staff and administrative costs, inter-agency fees, banking charges, audits, and administrative committee costs. Carrier payments for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 are estimated at $45.398 million, which is an increase of $3.713 million from the previous year’s adopted budget. The total program budget is down from $1.308 million from Fiscal Year 2010-2011. The reduction is due largely to a $5 million reduction in AB 140 rural infrastructure grant payments. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
California High Cost Fund-B Budget Approved for Fiscal Year 2011-2012, Resolution T-17289 (Item 42, adopted on consent agenda) – This item adopts a 2011-2012 fiscal year budget for the California High Cost Fund B (CHCF-B). The CD’s proposed budget of $47.711 million reflects the changes in the benchmark threshold adopted in D.07-09-020 (increases to the threshold benchmark at which COLRs are subsidized), carrier’s estimates of expected claims, and estimates from the Commission’s fiscal office for staff and administrative costs, inter-agency fees, banking charges, audits, and administrative committee costs. It is a $3.224 million decrease from the $50.935 million budget for fiscal year 2010-2011. This difference largely reflects reductions in carrier claims. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program Budget Adopted for Fiscal Year 2011-2012, Resolution T-17285 (Item 18, adopted on consent agenda) – By this Draft Resolution, the Commission adopts a budget for 2011-2012 for the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), which provides specialized equipment to the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing through CPUC decisions issued in the 1980s. The Commission here adopts the same fiscal year 2011-2012 budget as the last two fiscal years, 69.03 million. The Draft Resolution underlying this item is available here.
Commission Revokes 9 Wireless Identification Registrations for Failure to Comply With Public Utilities Code Sections 401-435 (Filing of CPUC Reimbursement Account Reports and Payment of Applicable Fees), Resolution T-17278 (Item 6, adopted on consent agenda) – This Resolution revokes 9 Wireless Identification Registrations (WIRs) for failure to comply with Public Utilities Code Sections 401-435, which collectively require telephone corporations, including WIRs, to file reports with the CPUC which show the amount of California intrastate revenue earned. The CD sent two notices to the affected companies informing them of the need to comply with this requirement. The Draft Resolution underlying this item is available here.
Western States Teleport, Inc. Transfer of Ownership to G. Clark Smith Approved (Item 25, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants the application of InSite Connect LLC (InSite) and G. Clark Smith to authorize transfer of ownership of Western States Teleport Inc. (WST) to G. Clark Smith. WST holds a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to provide limited facilities-based and resold local and interexchange telecommunications services in California. InSite currently owns an 80% share of WST and Smith owns a 20% share of WST, and this Decision transfers control of WST to Smith through the acquisition by Smith of 100% of the shares of capital stock in InSite. The Proposed Decision underlying this item is available here.
Decisions on Ratepayer Claims Against AT&T California (Items 26 and 27, adopted on consent agenda) – These two Decisions each involve consumer claims against AT&T. The first presents a claim that AT&T improperly disconnected a telephone number, and that when AT&T reconnected the customer, it stated there would be a $500 reconnection charge. The Decision finds that AT&T should not impose a reconnection charge. The second case sought reparations of $222.32 for a customer’s telephone service being inoperable over a period of months. AT&T denied the allegations, but at a hearing agreed to credit the ratepayer that amount regardless of the merits. The Proposed Decisions associated with these items are available here and here.
CPCN Granted to Everycall Communications Inc. (Item 28, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants a CPCN to Everycall Communications Inc. (Everycall) to provide limited facilities-based and resold competitive local exchange services in the service territories of AT&T, Frontier, SureWest Telephone/SureWest Communications, and Verizon California, Inc., and interexchange telecommunications services statewide. Everycall is a privately-held Louisiana corporation. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
CPCN Granted to CVC CLEC, LLC. (Item 29, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants a CPCN to CVC CLEC, LLC (CVC) to provide limited facilities-based local exchange and interexchange telecommunications services within large and mid-sized ILEC territories in California. CVC will provide resold competitive local exchange services in California by purchasing unbundled network elements from ILECs in combination with use of its own limited facilities, and by using Voice over Internet Protocol, at least in part, for the provision of telecommunications services, in conjunction with its switching facility located in Dallas, Texas. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
TURN’s Request for Intervenor Compensation Denied in TracFone ETC Case (Item 31, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decisiondenies The Utility Reform Network’s (TURN) request for intervenor compensation for alleged contributions to Resolution T-17235, in which the Commission denied TracFone Wireless, Inc.’s request to be designated an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier in California for the purposes of receiving federal Lifeline support. Since the Resolution was later reversed on rehearing, TURN’s request for intercarrier compensation is denied. However, TURN may seek intervenor compensation in the proceedings that were initiated by the decision on rehearing in this matter. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
Utility Consumers’ Action Network Awarded $86,980.25 in Intervenor Compensation In Connection With Case Regarding Sprint Telephony PCS’s Pioneer Plan (Item 33, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision awards $86,980.25 in intervenor compensation to Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN) in a case filed against Sprint Telephony PCS, LP and related entities (“Sprint”) regarding Sprint’s “Pioneer Program,” a residential and business telephone service plan. The underlying decision approved a settlement agreement for Sprint to provide customer refunds estimated at $521,000 and opportunities for changes to service plans. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY ITEMS
$120 Million Refund Awarded to San Diego Gas & Electric Company Customers for Over-Collection of Funds (Item 36, adopted on regular agenda) – This Proposed Decision approved a refund of $120 million to customers of San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) as a result of an over-collection of funds in SDG&E’s Energy Resource Recovery Account established by the CPUC to record the investor-owned utilities’ fuel and purchased power revenues against actual recorded costs. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT HELD OR WITHDRAWN ITEMS
$2,169,815 in CASF Contingent Funding Awarded for Redwood Telephone LLC’s Northern California Open Community Fiber Network Project, Resolution T-17288 (Item 19, held to 9/2/10) – This Resolution would adopt $2,169,815 in contingent CASF funding for Redwood Telephone LLC’s (Redwood) Northern California Open Community Fiber Network Project in Humboldt County. The Open Community Project stretches along the upper Northern California coastline from the Brookings, Oregon border in the north to Benbow, California in the South, and includes an additional segment running east from Blue Lake to Willow Creek and north to unserved areas. The proposed project would potentially serve underserved and unserved communities in these areas with 1 Gbps secure private transport, carrier-based Ethernet, and wholesale high-speed broadband internet. The grant is contingent upon Redwood being able to obtain 80% in ARRA funding. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
CPUC Position on 911 Warmline Bill (Item 44, withdrawn) – SB 1375 (Price) would modify the current “warmline” requirements under Public Utilities Code Section 2883 by limiting warmline obligations to current customers, and customers who have been disconnected within 120 days.
Commissioner Simon reported that he and President Peevey participated in an Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute conference at New York Law School.
Commissioner Bohn reported that the Governor had recently announced four recent ARRA awards, including awards in favor of Cal-Ore Communications, Calaveras Telephone Company, Smarter Broadband, and Softcom Internet Communications. According to Bohn, these four awards alone represent more ARRA money for the state of California than was received during the entire first ARRA funding round. A significant number of additional grants are expected in the near future. Commissioner Bohn noted that the Commission is currently working on seven additional applications for CASF matching grants.
Commissioner Peevey added that the most significant recent federal grant in favor of California came from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which awarded $22 million in funding for the California Telehealth Network pursuant to the Rural Health Care Pilot Program. The California Telehealth Network will be publicly unveiled next Tuesday at the U.C. Davis Cancer Center and will provide for remote “telemedicine.” A press release addressing this federal award is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/NEWS_RELEASE/75613.doc.
Chief ALJ Clopton reported on the success of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process at the Commission. The ADR program has now been in place for five years, and has produced a 75% settlement rate, with program use increasing each year.