The Vermont Statutes Online
The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.
NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.
Chapter 005 : State Policy; Plans; Jurisdiction and Regulatory Authority of Commission and Department
Subchapter 001 : General Powers(Cite as: 30 V.S.A. § 226a)
§ 226a. Contracts regarding basic exchange telecommunications services
(a) As used in this section, “basic exchange telecommunications service” shall mean the provision of publicly switched, voice grade interactive telecommunications services between or among two or more end users, where a single central office provides that service to those two or more end users. The term may also, at the Commission’s discretion, include services which are or have been tariffed at rates equivalent to local service rates for basic exchange services.
(b) The Department is authorized to negotiate, and upon approval of the Commission may execute on behalf of the State, a contract for a fixed term with any company providing basic exchange telecommunications services. Any such contract shall provide for:
(1) specified basic exchange rates during the life of the contract;
(2) minimum plant and equipment modernization schedules;
(3) specified service quality levels for telecommunications services, including those offered to competitors, measured by objective standards;
(4) furnishing such technical information as may be needed by a competitor in order for the competitor to offer and provide competitive services which require access to or utilize the company’s regulated basic exchange services in a manner technically equivalent to the company’s use of those regulated services;
(5) rates, terms, and conditions for access charges for use of the company’s facilities by competitors, that are established by order of the Commission unless otherwise approved under this section by the Commission;
(6) elimination or reduction of regulatory requirements under subsection 218(a) and sections 225, 226, 227, and 229 of this title, including rate of return requirements; and
(7) such other rates, terms, and conditions as the Department and company may agree upon and the Commission approves, provided that the parties to the contract affirmatively demonstrate and the Commission finds that such rates, terms, and conditions are consistent with the State telecommunications purposes established under section 202c of this title and after its adoption with the State Telecommunications Plan established under section 202d of this title.
(c) Any contract made pursuant to this section shall be written, signed by the parties, and filed with the Commission. At the time of filing a contract with the Commission, the company also shall file with the Commission for public inspection all information made available to the Department during the negotiations. After public notice and no less than 45 days after the parties have filed a contract with it, the Commission shall hold a hearing to determine whether it should approve the contract. In such proceedings, the public contract advocate appointed by the Attorney General under 3 V.S.A. § 165 shall represent the interests of the public and the State, and any interested party may intervene. The Commission shall grant approval only if it finds that a contract in its entirety is just and reasonable giving due consideration to the services and price levels covered and any risk of cross-subsidization, promotes the general good of the State, supports reasonable competition, contains fair and equitable provisions for the treatment of customer privacy interests, and takes into consideration any State Telecommunications Plan or policy adopted pursuant to section 202d of this title. The Commission shall render its decision within seven and one-half months from the date of filing of a contract. If the Commission does not grant approval, it may recommend modifications to the contract. Within 30 days after issuance of the Commission’s order, the company and the Department may file with the Commission, with service on parties to the proceeding, a modified contract, incorporating the Commission’s recommended modifications. Within 20 days after such filing, the Commission on its motion may conduct, or other substantially affected parties may request that the Commission conduct hearings or other proceedings on the proposed modifications. Such requests shall be granted only if the Commission finds that the proposed modifications deviate in substance from those recommended by the Commission or that the public interest requires that hearings be held. If no such requests are made or if the requests are denied, the Commission shall make a final decision approving or disapproving the modified contract within 45 days after the modified contract was filed. If the Commission conducts hearings, it shall make a final decision within 90 days after the modified contract was filed.
(d) The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over any contract under this section and shall hear and resolve any disputes or claims which may arise regarding its application. During the period of any contract under this section, a company shall continue to file with the Commission and the Department its rates, tariffs, and tolls for any service provided, including any service subject to the contract, and shall also file on a monthly basis its rate of return under the contract.
(e) If at any time, after notice and opportunity for hearing, the Commission determines that changes in federal regulatory law, unforeseen and significant economic shifts, or changes in technology have created either extremely severe economic hardships for the company or a condition that is severely detrimental and contrary to the public good, the Commission shall order the Department and the company to renegotiate relevant portions of a contract negotiated under this section, and any renegotiated provisions shall be subject to the Commission’s approval under the procedures of subsection (c) of this section. If at any time the General Assembly is concerned that such conditions exist, it may, by joint resolution, direct the Commission to conduct a hearing and make a determination thereon. If the Department and the company fail to reach a negotiated agreement within four months of receipt of an order to negotiate from the Commission, the Commission shall hold a hearing to determine the appropriate content of the relevant portions of the contract. In such proceedings, the public contract advocate shall represent the interests of the public and the State, and any interested party may intervene. The Commission shall complete its hearings and render its decision within four months from the date that the Department and the company failed to agree under an order to negotiate. If the Department and the company agree within 14 days of the Commission’s decision to accept the Commission’s determination of the appropriate content of the contract, the contract shall continue in effect as modified until its termination date. If the Department or the company does not accept the Commission’s determination, the contract shall terminate under the terms specified in subsection (f) of this section 30 days after the date of the Commission’s decision.
(f) Any contract under this section shall extend for no more than five years, and this section and any contract shall terminate December 31, 1997. Upon expiration or termination of a contract, the rates, terms, and conditions then in effect under the contract shall continue in effect as duly filed and approved rates and schedules under this title and shall thereafter be subject to all of the provisions of this title. (Added 1987, No. 87, § 6, eff. June 9, 1987; amended 1991, No. 63; 1999, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 2003, No. 98 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2009, No. 33, § 59.)