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 the agenda for its January 28, 2016, Open Meeting. The meeting is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. The following items are on the agenda:
- Expansion of Online Public File: A Report and Order which modernizes the public inspection file rules by requiring cable and satellite TV operators and broadcast and satellite radio companies to post public inspection files on the FCC’s online database.
- Improving the Nation’s Public Alert and Warning Systems: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to strengthen the Emergency Alert System by promoting participation on the state and local levels, supporting greater testing and awareness of EAS, leveraging technological advances, and bolstering EAS security.
- Broadband Progress Report: The 2016 Broadband Progress Report examining whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Wheeler released a Fact Sheet on his draft of the 2016 Broadband Progress Report. See the Regulatory Mix dated 1/11/16.
The agenda also includes four items concerning requests for inspection of records under the Freedom of Information Act, two media items, and an application for review of an action concerning closed captioning requirements.
Average Schedule Formula
The FCC is seeking comment on the National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc.’s (NECA) proposed modification to the average schedule formulas for interstate settlements for the period beginning July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. NECA said that the proposed formula changes will increase settlement rates by 2.6% at constant demand. NECA said that “most companies are expected to experience increases in settlements, with 46 study areas of the total 313 average schedule study areas expected to experience settlement rate reductions, at constant demand.” Most of the settlement increases are due to increases in the special access formulas. Comments are due February 22, 2016; rely comments are due March 8, 2016.
The PSC opened an investigation into Consumers Energy Company’s estimated billing practices, directed the utility to file a report by February 18, and directed the PSC staff to supply its analysis and recommendations by May 18. The utility’s report should address eight areas, including explanations of the utility’s performance history regarding its meter reading factor, the impact of certain software on billing issues related to estimated meter reads, meter reading staffing levels, communications with customers regarding estimated reads, how many customers the utility under- or overestimated during the summer tiered rate period, how many variable rate alternative gas supplier customers for whom it estimated meter reads during the heating season, what the utility is doing with any customer service write offs related to estimated billing, and the utility’s plans going forward to address the practice of estimated billing.