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 Briefing.
The FCC announced it is accepting applications from entities interested in receiving certification to distribute equipment under the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) to qualifying residents in Virginia. Applications will be accepted until December 18, 2015. In 2012, the FCC selected the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH)as the NDBEDP certified program for the state of Virginia. On November 16, 2015, VDDHH informed the FCC that it would not continue participating in the NDBEDP and that it would relinquish its certification, effective December 31, 2015. The certified program selected for Virginia will be reimbursed for eligible NDBEDP related costs that it incurs after its selection and during the fourth year of the NDBEDP pilot program, which began July 1, 2015, and ends June 30, 2016. Any public program or private entity may apply to the FCC for certification if it meets the FCC’s qualification requirements as described in the Public Notice.
The PUC approved, with certain conditions, the transfer of wireline assets of Verizon California to Frontier Communications. In addition to nearly 2.2 million customer accounts, the assets to be transferred include the physical assets of Verizon California such as poles, wires, switches, trucks, central offices, and other landline facilities that cover a large part of the state and include some of California’s most isolated rural communities. The PUC imposed conditions on the asset transfer intended to result in significant improvements to the network, including expanded network redundancy in cases of emergencies, and more robust broadband deployment to rural areas. In addition, Frontier must offer broadband connectivity to all Lifeline-eligible Verizon customers, and Frontier must, for five years, collect and report annually data showing compliance of the merged companies with the PUC’s Supplier Diversity Program under General Order 156. The proposal as voted on is available here. The final order has not been posted as of this writing.
The US House of Representatives has passed H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (Act). The Act seeks to update and modernize outdated policies and make our energy infrastructure more resilient and create jobs. It focuses on four areas – modernizing energy infrastructure, protecting the electricity system, strengthening energy security, and improving energy efficiency and government accountability. Additionally, the Act contains provisions to lift the ban on crude oil exports, expedite the approval process for liquefied natural gas exports, and speed up the permitting process for cross-border energy infrastructure projects.