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Cebridge appeals court’s decision on broadband

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Five years after proposing high-speed Internet service to the community, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s plan is again in limbo after Cebridge Connections on Tuesday appealed a court decision.

Pete Abel, vice president of community relations for Cebridge, said his company believes there are “serious legal issues” with a decision made by Nevada County Superior Court Judge Albert Dover allowing a public utility district to provide broadband cable services.

Dover’s ruling late last year ended the year-long suit Cebridge filed against the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), the government body that granted the Truckee utility regulatory authority to become a broadband provider.

“The superior court said that their ruling was ‘a matter of first impression.’ It’s not a definitive or fully conclusive ruling, which raises questions in our minds about whether that is the final word,” Abel said

Abel, who attended Wednesday’s special broadband workshop at the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, came under fire by a number of frustrated residents. However, he maintained that while “some of our customers and non-customers are extremely upset, by and large most of the customers I’ve talked to are neutral on the topic.”

But it seemed that very few citizens in attendance on Wednesday were neutral, and the majority of them spoke in favor of the utility district’s proposed project. From those comments, board members walked away with a better understanding of what their next steps might be.

“There is still some sort of a majority that would like to see the system deployed, and they are simply tired of waiting and would like to see us take some form of action,” said board president Ron Hemig of what he heard from customers Wednesday night. “I think the best course of action is for us to work around the appeal, and try to get this system started and build it as it was proposed to LAFCo.”

The board commented that they would like to release another community survey, re-evaluate project costs, and consider new technology options. And if the community opposes the project, the board members said they will put it to rest.

To ease resistance from investors who might have concerns about putting money into a project still being decided by the courts, the utility district is now considering indemnification. The district can purchase insurance protecting their investors from the appeal. In the event that LAFCo loses the appeal, no money would be lost if the insurance is in place.

The board will research insurance options, said Hemig.

“We’re halfway between third base and home plate,” Hemig said. “Why would anybody lie down now?”


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