[34 Pa.B. 932]
Public Meeting held
January 29, 2004
Commissioners Present: Terrance J. Fitzpatrick, Chairperson; Robert K. Bloom, Vice Chairperson; Glen R. Thomas; Kim Pizzingrilli; Wendell F. Holland
Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. Petition and Plan for Alternative Form of Regulation under Chapter 30; 2000 Biennial Update to Network Modernization Plan (Amendment to NMP); P-00930715F0002
Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. Petition and Plan for Alternative Form of Regulation Under Chapter 30; 2000 Biennial Update to Network Modernization Plan (Petition For Reconsideration of May 15, 2002 Order); P-00930715
By the Commission:
By an Opinion and Order entered September 17, 2003 (Order), we granted Verizon Pennsylvania Inc.'s (Verizon PA) Petition to amend the Network Modernization Plan (NMP) portion of its Chapter 30 Plan, as modified by that order. The Order disposed of exceptions filed by various parties to the Recommended Decision of Administrative Law Judge Larry Gesoff, which was issued on March 26, 2003, in the previously captioned proceeding.
Following issuance of the Order, Commission staff found that an inconsistency exists between the target dates in the Order for Verizon PA's broadband deployment commitments and the due dates for the biennial updates to confirm compliance. All the target dates established in the Order (except for the last one in 2015) for meeting Verizon PA's broadband deployment commitments are as of December 31st of even-numbered years, but the Order does not change when Verizon PA has to file its biennial updates. Biennial updates are currently required to be filed in June of even-numbered years and report results as of December 31st of the prior calendar year (which are odd-numbered years). See September 17, 2003, Order at 21 and 82, Ordering Paragraph No. 8.
The net effect is that Verizon PA will be reporting compliance with deployment commitments as of the end of odd-numbered years, which will make it difficult, if not impossible, to audit Verizon PA's compliance (consistent with Ordering Paragraph No. 16 of the Order) with the even-numbered year milestone commitment levels contained in the deployment schedule. This, in turn, will effectively preclude our pursuit, as necessary, of appropriate enforcement steps for any commitment shortfalls. In short, the current time lines give Verizon PA an extra year to meet its milestone commitments before it actually has to report its results.
The Commission believes the best approach to correct this situation, and thereby increase the effectiveness of the audits, is to synchronize the target and filing dates by changing the due dates for biennial updates to June of odd-numbered years. To accomplish this change, we believe the appropriate course is to follow section 703(g) of the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § 703(g), relating to, among other things, amending a prior final order of the Commission. This section requires that notice and an opportunity to be heard must first be provided to interested parties to the proceedings before the amendment can become effective.
Given that the proposed change merely changes when biennial updates are to be filed with the Commission, we do not believe an evidentiary hearing is necessary to effectuate this change unless an interested party provides valid grounds for the need for a hearing during the 30-day notice period provided herein. Therefore, this Tentative Order will become final at the conclusion of the notice period absent any other adverse comment being received by the Commission.
We also believe this filing date change is supported by another important consideration. In the instant matter, Verizon PA's amendment effected a major, substantive change in the NMP originally approved in 1994. The substantive modification to Verizon PA's NMP occurred in 2003, and, therefore, it is reasonable to expect that biennial updates would be filed every 2 years thereafter, that is, in future odd-numbered years.
Finally, this Tentative Order does not affect our previous determination in our September 17, 2003, Order that Verizon PA file a report in 2004 because the company has not filed a biennial update since June 2000. The 2004 Biennial Update will contain data for the period January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2003. The following chart summarizes the schedule Verizon PA will follow relating to the filing of biennial NMP update reports with the Commission:
Report Date Coverage Period Report Filing
January 1, 2000--December 31, 2003 (4-year report) June 2004 January 1, 2004--December 31, 2004 (1-year report) June 2005 January 1, 2005--December 31, 2006 (2-year report) June 2007 January 1, 2007--December 31, 2008 (2-year report) June 2009 January 1, 2009--December 31, 2010 (2-year report) June 2011 January 1, 2011--December 31, 2012 (2-year report) June 2013 January 1, 2013--December 31, 2014 (2-year report) June 2015
As previously stated, interested parties will have a 30-day period to file comments to this proposed change of timing for filing biennial updates. If no adverse comments are received, this Tentative Order will become final at the end of this comment period; Therefore,
It Is Ordered That:
1. The due dates for Verizon Pennsylvania Inc.'s biennial NMP updates are hereby tentatively changed to June of odd-numbered years starting in 2005.
2. Verizon Pennsylvania Inc., consistent with Ordering Paragraph No. 18 of our September 17, 2003, Order at this docket, will file its 2002 Biennial Update in June 2004 containing data for the period January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2003.
3. The Secretary serve a copy of this Tentative Order upon all parties on the service list in this docket and also cause a copy of this Tentative Order to be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin with a 30-day comment period.
4. Absent the filing of adverse public comment within 30 days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, this Tentative Order shall become final without further action by the Commission.
JAMES J. MCNULTY,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 04-283. Filed for public inspection February 13, 2004, 9:00 a.m.]
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