CPUC delays expanding broadband subsidy eligibility

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

Picker takes a seat.

The California Public Utilities Commission put off consideration of new rules governing the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) today. The vote on how to expand eligibility for CASF grants and loans was put off until 27 February 2014. No reason was given for the delay, but it’s likely due – at least in part – to comments filed last week by The Utility Reform Network (TURN) that proposed allowing more flexible requirements for local governments that might want to apply for broadband construction subsidies. Typically, CPUC staff would summarise and respond to comments received on proposed decisions and that work appears to still be in progress. In addition to TURN, a group of small telephone companies and the commission’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates filed comments that would also, presumably, require a response.

The commission did vote to give Golden Bear Broadband status as a regulated telephone company, similar to its action in December doing the same for Schat Communications. In Golden Bear’s case, the rationale was that it would be providing “dedicated private line special access services to business customers and carriers”, in addition to unregulated (and, under state law, unregulatable) broadband service.

The meeting also marked the debut of Michael Picker as a commissioner. He was appointed by Governor Brown last week to take the place of Mark Ferron, who resigned because of health issues. Prior to being appointed, Picker was a renewable energy advisor to Brown and a member of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District board of directors. He resigned both jobs before taking the oath of office as a commissioner this morning.