New round of broadband construction subsidies begins in California

1 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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Prospectors still look for gold in Sacramento.

The application window is open for grants and loans from the California Advanced Services Fund The new round of funding – there’s something like $160 million available for grants – began today.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which administers CASF, has posted answers to frequently asked questions. The parameters of the program were redefined this year, but in most regards it’s the process as before. One change is that the funding window will stay open until the money runs out, which the CPUC hopes will be sometime in 2015. In the last round, applications were due on a particular day, which resulted in more than 30 applications of varying completeness landing at the CPUC all at once.

Another change is the requirement, imposed by the state legislature in September when it passed (and the governor signed) assembly bill 2272, is that all construction work has to be done under union wage scales and work rules – the so-called prevailing wage law. So far, the CPUC isn’t getting involved in the details, according to the FAQ

AB 2272 states that public works funded in whole or in part by the CASF and are subject to California’s prevailing wage requirements. The CPUC has not issued a formal policy statement regarding implementation of these new requirements and it is expected that CASF applicants will comply with the State’s the prevailing wage requirements. Applicants may incorporate required labor costs associated with capital expenditures into their grant and loan proposals, but will need to be able to match any associated increases in the matching fund component of their project proposals.

Another point that’s clarified is the issue of personal guarantees for loans – those could be required if the CPUC deems it necessary.