The bill authorizes an electric utility that has an electric easement on real property or a commercial broadband supplier designated by the electric utility to act on the electric utility's behalf, after having provided advanced notice to the owner of the real property and to any interest holder in the real property that has requested notice, to install, maintain, or own a broadband facility within the electric easement or to lease any excess capacity of such facility to a commercial broadband supplier. The broadband facility may be installed, maintained, or owned aboveground within the electric easement if the facility is attached to the electric utility's electric service infrastructure. An electric utility or a designated commercial broadband supplier may maintain or own an underground broadband facility within the electric easement only if the facility existed before notice was delivered to the property owner and interest holders requesting notice pursuant to the bill.
An electric utility may assign its rights under the bill to install, maintain, own, or lease excess capacity of broadband facilities. The terms and conditions of a written electric easement, including any notice requirements related to entering the real property on which the electric easement is located, apply; except that any terms and conditions that prohibit the electric utility from exercising the rights authorized under the bill do not apply.
The bill establishes a 2-year limitations period within which an interest holder may bring a claim against an electric utility or commercial broadband supplier with regard to the electric utility's or commercial broadband supplier's exercise of rights under the bill; except that the statutory limitations period does not apply to claims based on physical damage to property, injury to natural persons, or breach of the terms and conditions of a written electric easement. Damages for claims subject to the statutory limitations period are limited to damages that existed at the time that the electric utility or commercial broadband supplier first exercised its rights under the bill at issue and measured by the fair market value of the reduction in value of the interest holder's interest in the real property.
An electric utility or commercial broadband supplier exercising rights under the bill:
- Cannot discriminate among commercial broadband suppliers, including with respect to leasing fees charged and pole access provided, in offering or granting rights to install or attach broadband facilities;
- Is required to charge just and reasonable pole attachment fees; and
- May only withhold authorization to a commercial broadband supplier to install, maintain, own, operate, or use broadband facilities on the electric utility's electric service infrastructure if there is insufficient capacity for the broadband facilities or for reasons of safety or reliability concerns or engineering considerations that weigh against granting an authorization.
An electric utility shall not directly provide retail commercial broadband service but a broadband affiliate of the electric utility may do so if:
- A separate accounting system is maintained for the broadband affiliate;
- An independent certified public accountant performs a financial audit of the broadband affiliate within 2 years after it commences retail commercial broadband service and at least once every 2 years thereafter; and
- The electric utility does not cross-subsidize the broadband affiliate or the broadband affiliate's provision of commercial broadband service.
A commercial broadband supplier that is unaffiliated with an electric utility may request that the electric utility and a broadband affiliate of the electric utility, if they are exercising rights under the bill, certify that the electric utility and the broadband affiliate are in compliance with the bill, which certification is admissible in court in any action that arises between the unaffiliated commercial broadband supplier and the electric utility or broadband affiliate.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)