UPDATED March 18, 2021
In a significant win for the electric cooperative program in Kentucky, the General Assembly approved legislation Tuesday that allows electric cooperatives to add broadband service, and earmarks $250 million in federal funding to encourage broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas. The bill now goes to Governor Andy Beshear for his signature or veto.
Supported by a grassroots campaign of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, House Bill 320 does not include any changes to existing pole attachment regulations that would have led to electric rate increases. Instead, the bill requires the Public Service Commission to promulgate updated pole attachment regulations by the end of the year.
Tri-County Electric would like to thank Senators David Givens and Max Wise, as well as State Representatives, Bart Rowland, Shawn McPherson, and Josh Branscum for their support of rural broadband deployment. We would also like to encourage our member-owners to thank their representatives for passing this bill that benefits our rural community.
STOP Hidden Fees by Voting NO on Pole Attachments
This is an urgent message for consumer-members of electric cooperatives in Kentucky, and everyone who pays an electric bill.
We need your help to stop an effort underway behind the scenes in Frankfort that would result in higher fees being added to electric bills of co-op members.
Some for-profit telecommunications companies want to pass along the “pole attachment” costs of broadband expansion to your power bill. Though we have explained in good faith that these unfair pole attachment charges would result in rate increases on your electric bill, they are pushing forward with this plan anyway.
Legislators need to hear from you and other local electric ratepayers that these multi-billion dollar for-profit companies who are already receiving hundreds of millions of tax dollars to expand broadband service, should not pad the pockets of their shareholders by adding these extra costs to your power bill.
- FACT: If broadband providers succeed in passing along these unrelated broadband costs to electric bills, all ratepayers will see higher electric bills, not just the ones who might gain broadband service.
- FACT: For years, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have worked to accommodate the needs of telecommunications providers, allowing access to the cooperative pole network and relieving telecoms from the burden of having to build their own systems.
- FACT: Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have engaged in good-faith discussions with broadband providers and the Public Service Commission to review and modernize pole attachment regulations with the shared goal of speeding up broadband expansion while preserving the safety and reliability of both the public and line workers.
- FACT: If an electric utility pole is sufficient to provide electric service, but enhancements to the pole are necessary to accommodate an additional attachment (such as broadband), those “make ready” costs are the obligation of the broadband company, not a local cooperative.
Broadband companies must not be allowed to hide the cost of doing business in the electric bills of rural Kentuckians.
Co-ops are owned by the people we serve, we are working to protect your interests, and we need your help, so lawmakers understand this issue is important to you.
Click here to tell your legislator “STOP Hidden Fees by Voting NO on Pole Attachments in Kentucky.”