BILL REQ. #: S-2298.2
|State of Washington||60th Legislature||2007 Regular Session|
READ FIRST TIME 02/28/07.
AN ACT Relating to authorizing locally regulated telecommunications services to the general public and public agencies by public utility districts; amending RCW 54.16.330; adding a new chapter to Title 54 RCW; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 In 2000, the legislature intended to improve
access to broadband services in rural areas by granting wholesale
telecommunications authority to public utility districts. The
legislature found that access to telecommunications facilities and
services was essential to the economic well-being of both urban and
rural areas, and that many persons and entities, particularly in rural
areas, did not have access to telecommunications facilities and
services. The legislature now finds that many areas of the state
continue to lag in the availability of affordable and reliable
broadband telecommunications services. To address this problem, the
legislature intends to create a pilot project in which public utility
districts in geographically remote areas of the state, with significant
geographic impediments to broadband deployment, with very low
population densities, with low median household income levels, with
national security installations located within, with underserved tribal
areas within, and which are successfully operating fiber optic
backbones, are authorized to offer retail telecommunications services
on a pilot basis. The pilot project will be used to determine if
granting retail telecommunications authority to public utility
districts can improve access to telecommunications facilities and
services and enhance the economic well-being and public health and
safety of unserved and underserved areas of the state.
Sec. 2 RCW 54.16.330 and 2004 c 158 s 1 are each amended to read
(1) Except as provided in chapter 54.-- RCW (sections 3 through 5 of this act), a public utility district in existence on June 8, 2000, may construct, purchase, acquire, develop, finance, lease, license, handle, provide, add to, contract for, interconnect, alter, improve, repair, operate, and maintain any telecommunications facilities within or without the district's limits for the following purposes:
(a) For the district's internal telecommunications needs; and
(b) For the provision of wholesale telecommunications services within the district and by contract with another public utility district.
Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to authorize public utility districts to provide telecommunications services to end users.
(2) A public utility district providing wholesale telecommunications services shall ensure that rates, terms, and conditions for such services are not unduly or unreasonably discriminatory or preferential. Rates, terms, and conditions are discriminatory or preferential when a public utility district offering rates, terms, and conditions to an entity for wholesale telecommunications services does not offer substantially similar rates, terms, and conditions to all other entities seeking substantially similar services.
(3) A public utility district providing wholesale telecommunications services shall not be required to but may establish a separate utility system or function for such purpose. In either case, a public utility district providing wholesale telecommunications services shall separately account for any revenues and expenditures for those services according to standards established by the state auditor pursuant to its authority in chapter 43.09 RCW and consistent with the provisions of this title. Any revenues received from the provision of wholesale telecommunications services must be dedicated to costs incurred to build and maintain any telecommunications facilities constructed, installed, or acquired to provide such services, including payments on debt issued to finance such services, until such time as any bonds or other financing instruments executed after June 8, 2000, and used to finance such telecommunications facilities are discharged or retired.
(4) When a public utility district provides wholesale telecommunications services, all telecommunications services rendered to the district for the district's internal telecommunications needs shall be allocated or charged at its true and full value. A public utility district may not charge its nontelecommunications operations rates that are preferential or discriminatory compared to those it charges entities purchasing wholesale telecommunications services.
(5) A public utility district shall not exercise powers of eminent domain to acquire telecommunications facilities or contractual rights held by any other person or entity to telecommunications facilities.
(6) Except as otherwise specifically provided, a public utility district may exercise any of the powers granted to it under this title and other applicable laws in carrying out the powers authorized under this section. Nothing in chapter 81, Laws of 2000 limits any existing authority of a public utility district under this title.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 The definitions in this section apply
throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Commission" means the commission of a public utility district established under this title.
(2) "Locally regulated utility" means a public utility district formed under this title.
(3) "Retail telecommunications services" means the provision of telecommunications services or facilities directly to the general public, including consumers, end users, nonprofit corporations, and public agencies as defined in RCW 39.34.020.
(4) "Telecommunications" has the same meaning as defined in RCW 80.04.010.
(5) "Telecommunications facilities" includes lines, conduits, ducts, poles, wires, cables, crossarms, receivers, transmitters, instruments, machines, appliances, instrumentalities, and all devices, real estate, easements, apparatus, property, and routes used, operated, owned, or controlled by any entity to facilitate the provision of telecommunications services.
(6) "Telecommunications services" means the provision of telecommunications, telecommunications facilities, internet services, and information transmitted utilizing telecommunications facilities. As used in this subsection "information" means knowledge or intelligence represented by any form of writing, signs, signals, pictures, sounds, or any other symbols.
(7) "Wholesale telecommunications services" means the provision of telecommunications services or facilities for resale by an entity authorized to provide telecommunications services to the general public and internet service providers.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4 (1) In addition to the authority provided in
RCW 54.16.330, a locally regulated utility that meets the following
criteria is authorized to provide retail telecommunications services:
(a) The locally regulated utility is in a geographically remote county with significant geographic impediments to broadband telecommunications deployment;
(b) The locally regulated utility is located in a county with a population density of nine persons per square mile or less according to April 1, 2006, population estimates made by the office of financial management;
(c) The locally regulated utility is located in a county with a median household income of thirty-four thousand dollars or less in 2004, according to estimates made by the office of financial management in October 2006;
(d) The locally regulated utility is located in a county with national security installations, such as border stations and nuclear explosion listening arrays;
(e) The locally regulated utility is located in a county with tribal areas that are not served or are underserved by broadband telecommunications; and
(f) The locally regulated utility is located in a county where the utility district is successfully operating a fiber optic backbone.
(2) In order for the legislature to monitor the progress of the pilot project, a public utility district operating under this chapter shall submit a report to the legislature detailing any progress on the establishment and maintenance of a retail telecommunications network. The report must include the following metrics: The number, type, and location of unserved and underserved consumers that were provided service and the type of service provided; the number and location of unserved and underserved tribal areas that were provided service and the type of service provided; the comparative cost of, or public agency access or budgetary savings from, any telecommunications service provided, if available; and new or expanded services made available for public health and safety or national security. The report shall be submitted to the appropriate telecommunications committees of the legislature every November 1st until the expiration of the project. The report may be submitted in electronic form.
(3) The retail authority granted in this chapter expires at the end of seven years from the effective date of this section. Upon expiration of this authority, a public utility district may no longer expand its retail telecommunications network or acquire new retail telecommunications customers. However, in order to satisfy any legal or financial obligations incurred in establishing the services under the pilot project, a district may continue such service to those properties, and the occupants who use them, that are using the district's retail telecommunications services. The expiration of this pilot project shall have no effect on a district's continuing authority to offer services under RCW 54.16.330.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 5 (1) A person or entity that has requested
retail telecommunications services from the public utility district
providing retail telecommunications services under this chapter may
petition the commission of the locally regulated utility providing the
services if it believes the district's rates, terms, and conditions are
unduly or unreasonably discriminatory or preferential and the
commission has not issued a retail telecommunications services rate
determination within the last year. In determining whether the
district is providing discriminatory or preferential rates, terms, and
conditions, the commission may consider such matters as service
quality, cost of service, technical feasibility of connection points on
the district's facilities, time of response to service requests, system
capacity, and other matters reasonably related to the provision of
retail telecommunications services. If the commission, after notice
and hearing, determines that the public utility district's rates,
terms, and conditions are unduly or unreasonably discriminatory or
preferential, it shall amend the rates, terms, and conditions
accordingly and implement the same within thirty days.
(2) Nothing in this chapter may be construed or is intended to confer upon the Washington utilities and transportation commission any authority to exercise jurisdiction over retail telecommunications services offered by a public utility district under this chapter, except as required by federal law.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6 Sections 3 through 5 of this act constitute
a new chapter in Title