The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The PSC released a net metering report showing an increase of 18% in the program’s size over 2012. The report noted that the number of net metering customers increased from 1,330 in 2012 to 1,527 in 2013. Solar was the most popular, with an additional 221 customer installations totaling 1,674 kW in 2013. (The number of net metering installation exceeds the number of net metering customers because some customers have multiple installations.) Category 1 projects, those up to 20 kW, account for 82% of the total net metering program capacity. The state’s two largest utilities – Consumers Energy and DTE Electric – host 83% of the statewide total net metering program capacity.
Governor Patrick swore in Karen Charles Peterson as the new Commissioner of the Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC). She was officially appointed Commissioner on July 15. Peterson formerly served as Chief of Staff for the DTC. In other roles she served as Chief of Staff for the Executive Office of Transportation, Chief of Staff of the Registry of Motor Vehicles and acting Chief of Staff for the MBTA.
Posting of Open Meeting Items
In a Blog posting, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly said he believes that the FCC “should post on the FCC’s website the actual text of the items to be considered at our Open Meetings at the same time they are provided to Commissioners.” Under his proposal, “FCC Open Meetings would still occur as scheduled, but interested parties would have the chance to digest the actual text and provide valuable critique before starting our official Sunshine period.” He argues that:
“As with any written document, the more reviews a regulatory item receives before going out the door, the better. Empowering the public with the actual text could push the agency to ask better questions (including on the costs and benefits of proposed rules), fine tune its wording to prevent unintended consequences, and obtain useful suggestions before the final rules are locked in. Greater transparency would also make the rulemaking process more fair and efficient and could ultimately reduce the number of petitions for reconsideration and other legal challenges that are filed after the fact and that consume significant staff resources.
For all of these reasons, allowing public access to the draft text of Open Meeting items before a vote is the right thing to do from a good government perspective. I hope that the FCC will, as part of its process reform effort, make this common sense update to the non-disclosure rules. And if successful, we could even think about extending it to items considered under our circulation procedures.”
The FCC has established a comment cycle on the application of AT&T Inc., to acquire the assets of DIRECTV and its subsidiaries. Comments/Petitions are due September 16, 2014; Responses to Comments/Oppositions to Petitions are due October 16, 2014; Replies to Responses/Oppositions are due November 5, 2014. According to the Application, AT&T will acquire DIRECTV in a stock-and-cash transaction. At the closing of the transaction, DIRECTV will merge with and into a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, Steam Merger Sub LLC, which will be renamed DIRECTV. The new DIRECTV will own the stock of the subsidiaries of the pre-merger DIRECTV, and these subsidiaries will continue to hold the FCC licenses and other authorizations they held prior to the transaction. The Applicants assert that the proposed transaction will generate substantial public interest benefits and also commit to guaranteed pricing for three years after closing for stand-alone wireline IP broadband service in areas where AT&T currently offers wireline broadband. Furthermore, the Applicants state that they will continue to offer DIRECTV’s video service on a stand-alone basis and commit to guaranteed nationwide pricing for three years after the closing of the transaction.