PDFRCW 80.36.135

Alternative regulation of telecommunications companiesWaiver of provisions during state of emergency.

(1) The legislature declares that:
(a) Changes in technology and the structure of the telecommunications industry may produce conditions under which traditional rate of return, rate base regulation of telecommunications companies may not in all cases provide the most efficient and effective means of achieving the public policy goals of this state as declared in RCW 80.36.300, this section, and RCW 80.36.145. The commission should be authorized to employ an alternative form of regulation if that alternative is better suited to achieving those policy goals.
(b) Because of the great diversity in the scope and type of services provided by telecommunications companies, alternative regulatory arrangements that meet the varying circumstances of different companies and their ratepayers may be desirable.
(2) Subject to the conditions set forth in this chapter and RCW 80.04.130, the commission may regulate telecommunications companies subject to traditional rate of return, rate base regulation by authorizing an alternative form of regulation. The commission may determine the manner and extent of any alternative forms of regulation as may in the public interest be appropriate. In addition to the public policy goals declared in RCW 80.36.300, the commission shall consider, in determining the appropriateness of any proposed alternative form of regulation, whether it will:
(a) Facilitate the broad deployment of technological improvements and advanced telecommunications services to underserved areas or underserved customer classes;
(b) Improve the efficiency of the regulatory process;
(c) Preserve or enhance the development of effective competition and protect against the exercise of market power during its development;
(d) Preserve or enhance service quality and protect against the degradation of the quality or availability of efficient telecommunications services;
(e) Provide for rates and charges that are fair, just, reasonable, sufficient, and not unduly discriminatory or preferential; and
(f) Not unduly or unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage any particular customer class.
(3) A telecommunications company or companies subject to traditional rate of return, rate base regulation may petition the commission to establish an alternative form of regulation. The company or companies shall submit with the petition a plan for an alternative form of regulation. The plan shall contain a proposal for transition to the alternative form of regulation and the proposed duration of the plan. The plan must also contain a proposal for ensuring adequate carrier-to-carrier service quality, including service quality standards or performance measures for interconnection, and appropriate enforcement or remedial provisions in the event the company fails to meet service quality standards or performance measures. The commission also may initiate consideration of alternative forms of regulation for a company or companies on its own motion. The commission, after notice and hearing, shall issue an order accepting, modifying, or rejecting the plan within nine months after the petition or motion is filed, unless extended by the commission for good cause. The commission shall order implementation of the alternative plan of regulation unless it finds that, on balance, an alternative plan as proposed or modified fails to meet the considerations stated in subsection (2) of this section.
(4) Not later than sixty days from the entry of the commission's order, the company or companies affected by the order may file with the commission an election not to proceed with the alternative form of regulation as authorized by the commission.
(5) The commission may waive such regulatory requirements under Title 80 RCW for a telecommunications company subject to an alternative form of regulation as may be appropriate to facilitate the implementation of this section. However, the commission may not waive any grant of legal rights to any person contained in this chapter and chapter 80.04 RCW. The commission may waive different regulatory requirements for different companies or services if such different treatment is in the public interest.
(6) Upon petition by the company, and after notice and hearing, the commission may rescind or modify an alternative form of regulation in the manner requested by the company.
(7) The commission or any person may file a complaint under RCW 80.04.110 alleging that a telecommunications company under an alternative form of regulation has not complied with the terms and conditions set forth in the alternative form of regulation. The complainant shall bear the burden of proving the allegations in the complaint.
(8) During a state of emergency declared under RCW 43.06.010(12), the governor may waive or suspend the operation or enforcement of this section or any portion of this section or under any administrative rule, and issue any orders to facilitate the operation of state or local government or to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population.
[ 2008 c 181 § 414; 2000 c 82 § 1; 1995 c 110 § 5; 1989 c 101 § 1.]


Part headings not law2008 c 181: See note following RCW 43.06.220.