The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 014 : BROADBAND EXPANSION LOAN PROGRAM(Cite as: 10 V.S.A. § 280ee)
§ 280ee. Broadband Expansion Loan Program
(a) Creation. There is established within the Authority the Vermont Broadband Expansion Loan Program, the purpose of which is to enable the Authority to make loans that expand broadband service to unserved and underserved Vermonters as part of a plan to achieve universal broadband coverage in a municipality or communications union district.
(b) Intent. It is understood that loans under the Program may be high-risk loans to likely start-up businesses and therefore losses in the Program may be higher than the Authority's historical loss rate. Loans shall be underwritten by the Authority utilizing underwriting parameters that acknowledge the higher risk nature of these loans. The Authority shall not make a loan unless the Authority has a reasonable expectation of the long-term viability of the business. The Program is intended to provide start-up loans until such time as the borrower can refinance the loans through, for example, the municipal revenue bond market.
(1) The Authority shall make loans for start-up and expansion of broadband projects in unserved and underserved locations as part of a plan to achieve universal broadband coverage in a municipality or communications union district.
(2) The Authority shall establish policies and procedures for the Program necessary to ensure the expansion of broadband availability to the largest number of Vermont addresses as possible. The policies shall specify that:
(A) loans may be made in an amount of up to $4,000,000.00;
(B) eligible borrowers are:
(i) communications union districts;
(ii) Internet service providers working in conjunction with a communications union district to expand broadband service to unserved and underserved locations as part of a plan to achieve universal broadband coverage in the district; and
(iii) Internet service providers working in conjunction with a municipality that was not part of a communications union district prior to June 1, 2021 to expand broadband service to unserved and underserved locations as part of a plan to achieve universal broadband coverage in such municipality;
(C) interest and principal may be deferred up to three years;
(D) a maximum of $10,800,000.00 in Authority loans may be outstanding under the Program commencing on June 20, 2019;
(E) the provider shall offer to all customers broadband service that is capable of speeds of at least 100 Mbps symmetrical; and
(F) not more than one-sixth of the total allowable loans under this Program shall be available to eligible borrowers under subdivision (2)(B)(iii) of this subsection (c).
(3) To ensure the limited funding available through the Program supports the highest-quality broadband available to the most Vermonters and prioritizes delivering services to the unserved and underserved, the Authority shall consult with the Department of Public Service and the Vermont Community Broadband Board.
(d) On or before January 1, 2020, and annually thereafter, the Authority shall submit a report of its activities pursuant to this section to the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committees on Commerce and Economic Development and on Energy and Technology. Each report shall include operating and financial statements for the two most recently concluded State fiscal years. In addition, each report shall include information on the Program portfolio, including the number of projects financed; the amount, terms, and repayment status of each loan; and a description of the broadband projects financed in whole or in part by the Program. (Added 2019, No. 79, § 15, eff. June 20, 2019; amended 2021, No. 20, § 45; 2021, No. 71, § 9, eff. June 8, 2021.)