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 issued an $11.9 million Forfeiture Order against Purple Communications for improperly billing the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, which enables persons with speech or hearing disabilities to make and receive phone calls. The FCC found that Purple sought and received millions in reimbursements from the TRS Fund for, and failed to reasonably verify the names and addresses of, over 40,000 “users” with obviously false names, including gibberish and profanities, such as “sdfsdf cicwcicw,” “Myname Yourname,” or “Lot$a Money.”
The PUC approved the settlement agreement between its Safety and Enforcement Division and TracFone Wireless, Inc. The settlement agreement resolves all outstanding issues in the investigation and related court action concerning TracFone not collecting (or remitting) public purpose program surcharges and user fees on intrastate revenue from 2004 through 2012. The PUC previously determined that TracFone owed a more than $24 million for past due user fees and public purpose program surcharges, including interest. At that time the PUC declined to impose penalties. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, TracFone will pay a $10 million penalty. The PUC believes that its decision will serve as an effective deterrence to further offenses and is reasonable in light of the entire record, consistent with law, and in the public interest.
Department of Energy
The Department of Energy revealed 12 new projects to accelerate technologies that improve the efficiency and reliability of the US electric grid. The DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $33 million in funding for 12 innovative projects as part of ARPA-E’s Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) program. NODES project teams will develop technologies that coordinate load and generation on the electric grid to create a virtual energy storage system. The teams will develop innovative hardware and software solutions to integrate and coordinate generation, transmission, and end-use energy systems at various points on the electric grid. These control systems will enable real-time coordination between distributed generation, such as rooftop and community solar assets and bulk power generation, while proactively shaping electric load. This will alleviate periods of costly peak demand, reduce wasted energy, and increase renewables penetration on the grid. The announcement (use link above) also contains a link to the details on all 12 of the NODES projects.
*** The Regulatory Mix will be on hiatus 12/24/15 – 1/3/16 ***