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 FCC announced that Windstream Communications Inc. has accepted $174,895,478 in annual, ongoing support from the Connect America Fund to expand and support broadband for over 800,000 of its rural customers in 17 states. The FCC authorized and directed the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to obligate and disburse from the Universal Service Fund the identified support amounts for each state where Windstream has accepted support. The FCC also directed USAC to disburse from the broadband reserve account a lump sum payment associated with January through June 2015 for those states where model-based support is greater than Phase I support. The FCC’s announcement includes a state-by-state list of the amount of annual support provided and number of homes and businesses served.
Carriers receiving Connect America Fund support must build out broadband to 40% of funded locations by the end 2017, 60% by end of 2018, and 100% by the end of 2020. Overall, the FCC’s Universal Service Fund allocates $4.5 billion annually through various universal service programs for high-cost areas to support voice- and broadband-capable networks in rural America.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), through the BroadbandUSA program, in conjunction with Next Century Cities will hold a one-day regional broadband summit, ‘‘Digital New England,’’ to share information to help communities build their broadband capacity and utilization. The Summit will be held on September 28, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland, Maine. It will include presentations about present best practices and lessons learned from broadband network infrastructure buildouts and digital inclusion programs from Maine and surrounding states, including projects funded by NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It will also explore effective business and partnership models. Click here for more information.
The PSC issued its 2014 annual net metering and solar program report. Since 2008, when Public Act 295 required the establishment of a statewide net metering program, net metering has increased by 1,787 customers. The report noted that the number of net metering customers increased from 1,527 in 2013 to 1,840 in 2014. Solar was the most popular, with an additional 315 net metering installations adding a total of 2,849 kilowatts (kW) in 2014. The Category 1 net metering program (projects up to 20 kW) is available to customers until the program size reaches 0.5% of the electric providers peak load during the previous year. Consumers Energy and DTE Electric have 36 MW or 95% and 46 MW or 85% of space remaining, respectively. Participation in Category 2 and 3 net metering is still very low and far from reaching program size limits.