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Recent News // MPSC Approves Certain Waivers to Enable Midwest Energy Cooperative to Deploy High-Speed Internet in Unserved and Underserved Parts of Rural Michigan

Monday, June 23, 2014

On June 19, 2014, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved a waiver request, submitted by Midwest Energy Cooperative, for deployment of high-speed Internet service in unserved and underserved parts of Michigan. Below is the news release, distributed by MPSC detailing this development.

June 19, 2014 – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved a request by Midwest Energy Cooperative (Midwest) for waivers from certain code of conduct rules – with one exception – to enable the utility to deploy high-speed Internet in unserved and underserved parts of Michigan.

“Michigan is a national leader in expanding broadband access, adoption and use,” said MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. “Today’s order allows Midwest Energy Cooperative to provide reliable, high-speed Internet to rural parts of Michigan, which provides those communities with access to a better business environment, more effective community and economic development, improved healthcare services, enhanced education and more efficient government services.”

The utility on Nov. 25, 2013 filed an application with the MPSC seeking waivers from certain provisions of the code of conduct approved previously by the MPSC. It is in the process of deploying a 243-mile fiber communications ring through its utility substations and facilities to foster a “smarter” grid, help its member consumers manage their energy use, and provide critical infrastructure to deploy broadband. It is working with a coalition of allies and state and federal officials to bring high-speed Internet to the areas it serves.

Today’s order approves the utility’s request for waivers from the code of conduct, except for “Rule II. A,” which requires an electric utility that offers both regulated and unregulated services to do so with the structural or functional separation needed to prevent cross-subsidization, information sharing, and preferential treatment between regulated and unregulated services.  The MPSC’s approval is also conditioned upon Midwest filing an updated Exhibit B clarifying cost allocation between Midwest and its business unit providing Internet service within 10 days of the issuance of this order.

In addition, the Commission directed Midwest to include, as part of its annual times interest earned ratio (TIER) report, a detailed account with supporting documentation, of its business activities as related to the waivers from the code of conduct.  The first report is due effective April 2015 and annually thereafter in the same docket as the TIER report.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Case No. U-17513

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