Grumbles aside, no one is opposing giving California's Digital 395 project $10 million more

25 August 2013 by Steve Blum
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The opposition has yet to emerge.

The first round of comments on a proposed $10 million spiff for the Digital 395 middle mile project from the California Advanced Services Fund are in, and so far, no one has registered formal opposition to it. On 5 September 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is scheduled to decide whether to cover the overrun costs racked up by the project. That would boost the state’s contribution to $29 million, which is on top of $80 million from the 2009 federal stimulus program and about $1 million from project principals and local agencies.

I’ve already detailed the emphatic support registered by local agencies in Mono County, where a ten mile gap has to be closed to complete the 500 mile-plus fiber route from Reno, through Carson City, then down the U.S. 395 corridor in eastern California to Barstow.

The only other comments came from the project owner, the California Broadband Cooperative (CBC). Naturally enough, they think the extra money is a great idea, but they took issue with some of the negative comments directed their way in the proposed resolution. In drafting it, CPUC staff attributed some of the cost overruns to poor planning by CBC. The point is arguable, but it seems clear from the staff’s report and the CBC’s comments that the lion’s share of the blame is on a convoluted government agency approval process that consumed two-thirds of the three year project schedule.

CPUC staff has kept the window open until tomorrow for opposition (or support) responses to the initial comments, so public push-back could still emerge. But the consensus so far, based on the public record, is to spend $10 million to complete Digital 395.