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 submitted its Budget Request for 2017, asking for $358,286,000 in budget authority from regulatory fee collections to carry out its core statutory mission and Congressional mandates. This represents a decrease of $25,726,497 million or 6.7 percent from the FY 2016 level of $384,012,497, of which $44,168,497 was specifically made available for the necessary expenses associated with moving to a new facility or reconfiguring the existing space to significantly reduce space consumption. In FY 2017, the FCC requested the second installment of $16,866,992 to complete the move or reconfiguring of the existing space. The FCC also requested funds to follow through on essential information technology (IT) upgrades that include rewriting legacy applications as part of a modular “shift” to a modern, resilient cloud-based platform. The FCC said that these IT modernization efforts will allow it to support IT systems, including licensing and public safety, with less funds in the future. With the necessary funding, the FCC expects to realize costs savings between $2 million and $3 million by the end of the modernization efforts and an additional $5 million to $10 million over the next five years.
Rural Broadband Support
The FCC authorized rural broadband experiment support in the amount of $2,233,652 for Midwest Energy Cooperative d/b/a Midwest Connections (Midwest Connections) and Northern Valley Communications, LLC (Northern Valley) to bring new broadband to 289 census blocks in MI and SD. Price cap carriers that serve the census blocks where the rural broadband experiment winning bidders have been authorized to receive support no longer have a federal high-cost ETC obligation to continue to offer voice in those census blocks pursuant to the forbearance previously granted by the FCC.
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) was directed to disburse the authorized support amounts from the Connect America Fund reserve account. Specifically, USAC will disburse the support amounts to Northern Valley in equal monthly installments over the 10-year support term. Midwest Connections elected to receive 30% of the total support upfront in exchange for meeting accelerated deployment obligations. Therefore, USAC will disburse 30% of its total support amount with the first monthly payment, and disburse the remaining 70% of its support in 120 equal monthly installments over the 10-year term.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) launched PG&E’s Solar Choice program, extending the option for 100% solar power to customers who are not planning to install rooftop solar panels. Customers can purchase half or all of their electric power from solar energy locally sourced in Northern and Central California, reducing their carbon footprint and driving the development of new solar resources within the state. Visit www.pge.com/solarchoice to learn more about the new program.