Tentative Default Order
[37 Pa.B. 5708]
[Saturday, October 20, 2007]
Public Meeting held
September 27, 2007
Commissioners Present: Wendell F. Holland, Chairperson; James H. Cawley, Vice Chairperson; Tyrone J. Christy; Kim Pizzingrilli
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Law Bureau Prosecutory Staff v. New Rochelle Telephone Corp.; C-20077900; A-311228
Tentative Default Order
By the Commission:
On June 29, 2007, the Law Bureau Prosecutory Staff (Prosecutory Staff) filed a Formal Complaint against New Rochelle Telephone Corp. (New Rochelle or Respondent) at Docket No. C-20077900. Respondent was issued a Certificate of Public Convenience by the Commission on July 12, 2003, at Docket No. A-311228 and A-311228 F002 to provide, respectively, local and long distance telecommunications services in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to approximately 1,650 customers in 16 counties.
In the complaint, Prosecutory Staff alleged that Respondent failed to comply with the Commission's annual reporting requirements pursuant to 52 Pa. Code § 64.201, failed to pay its monthly Universal Service Fund (USF) assessments pursuant to 52 Pa. Code §§ 63.161--63.171 and 66 Pa.C.S. §§ 3001--3009, and violated 52 Pa. Code § 64.153(b)(1) by failing to respond within 30 days to 32 informal complaints that were filed with the Bureau of Consumer Services from January 1, 2004 up to and including May 6, 2006. The complaint requested that the Commission order Respondent to file its § 64.201 local exchange carrier (LEC) annual report for 2006, and pay its outstanding USF assessment total of $6,957.54 plus late fees. Furthermore, the Complaint also requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty of $1,000 for each violation alleged herein, and for each day's continuance of such violation, and/or cancel the New Rochelle's certificate of public convenience.
According to the U.S. Postal Service return receipt, the complaint was served on July 16, 2007. To date, more than 20 days later, no answer has been filed to the complaint, the 2006 LEC Report has not been filed nor has the USF assessment total of $6,957.54 plus late fees been paid. As of August 31, 2007, the unpaid USF assessment total is now $16,234.26 plus late fees.
New Rochelle's total failure of response is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. By way of this order we reiterate that we will not hesitate to invoke our authority under the Public Utility Code to ensure timely compliance with our regulations and orders including the ordering of such other remedy as the Commission may deem appropriate. 66 Pa.C.S. §§ 504, 505, 506, and 3301. Based on Respondent's failure to file an answer to the complaint, thereby admitting to violating § 64.153(b)(1), its failure to file its 2006 LEC Report, or pay its outstanding monthly USF assessments and late charges, we conclude that the payment of a substantial fine is appropriate and in the public interest. We shall order Respondent to pay $1,000 for each of the 32 violations of § 64.153(b)(1), direct New Rochelle to immediately pay all overdue USF amounts, and file the delinquent annual report. Furthermore, the Commission may take other appropriate action, including cancellation of Respondent's Certificate of Public Convenience if New Rochelle Telephone Corp. ignores this Default Order; Therefore,
It is Ordered That:
1. The allegations in the Law Bureau Prosecutory Staff's complaint are deemed admitted and the complaint is thereby sustained.
2. Respondent is hereby required to file its 2006 Annual Report, pay its outstanding Universal Service Fund assessment total of $16,234.26 plus late fees, agree to comply with § 64.153(b)(1) by responding to all informal complaints within 30 days, and pay a civil penalty of $32,000 for the violations established herein.
3. The Secretary serve a copy of this Tentative Default Order upon the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Office of Small Business Advocate, the Office of Trial Staff, and the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection, and also cause a copy of this Tentative Default Order to be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin with a 20-day comment period.
4. Absent the filing of a written response within the 20-day comment period, this Tentative Default Order shall become final without further order of this Commission.
JAMES J. MCNULTY,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 07-1968. Filed for public inspection October 19, 2007, 9:00 a.m.]
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