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Telecom plan goes to county

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

The Truckee-Donner Public Utility District Board of Directors has voted unanimously to approve and submit the most recent study of its telecommunications plan to the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission.

In a special board meeting last Wednesday night, the board heard from the staff of Indiana-based Vectren Communication Services, the telecommunications company that conducted the study.

The Vectren study was conducted to validate the district’s first survey on its telecommunications business plan, done earlier in the year by Navigant.

“The study does in fact validate the Navigant study,” district General Manager Peter Holzmeister said. “This study proposed a risk mitigation procedure and it also recommended that the Truckee-Donner PUD offer competitive local exchange carrier service The Vectren report really brings all of the possible digital services together in one package.”

Vectren, which deals primarily with public agencies, has proposed a partnership with the district that would help mitigate financial risk to the district. Vectren and its insurance company, AON Risk Services, has given a preliminary agreement to underwrite the project’s capital expenses.

This will allow the utilities district to issue a certain amount of bond money with the guarantee of bond repayment should the district decide to exit the telecommunications business within five years.

The full-service network Vectren is proposing has a price tag of $14 million.

Board member Pat Sutton voiced her concern with a government agency entering into a business that would be in direct competition with private businesses.

“Government has a lot of advantages that private companies don’t,” Sutton said. She also expressed concern that Vectren’s in its study went beyond what board members authorized the company to do.

“This whole thing has evolved,” said board president Ron Hemig. “We have to respect the world of technology. We can’t expect things to stay the same as we go throughout the process.”

Roger Terneuzen, regional manager of local cable provider USA Media, gave a lengthy statement to the board about his concerns of the district’s telecommunications business ventures and details in the Vectren study.

“First, I would ask that the board postpone any decisions or actions regarding this proposal until after upcoming elections, as the makeup of the board may very well not be the same after Nov. 7,” Terneuzen said at the beginning of his speech.

“If you want to do something for the community, your charter mandates that you provide the lowest possible electric and water rates to your customers. The Truckee-Donner PUD is not here to engage in lucrative or speculative ventures. Yours is a non-profit organization and you should not be in competition with private businesses,” said Terneuzen.


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