FCC Dismisses Backup Power Petition for Reconsideration

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has dismissed a Petition for Reconsideration regarding its conclusion that backup power should be a matter of consumer choice.  The Petition was filed by the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA), Maryland Office of People’s Counsel, Public Knowledge, the National Consumer Law Center, the Public Utility Law Project of New York, the Benton Foundation, the Center for Rural Strategies, the Greenlining Institute, the Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County, and Access Sonoma Broadband.

On August 6, 2015 the Commission adopted a Report and Order to promote continued access to 911 during commercial power outages by requiring providers of facilities-based, fixed residential voice services that are not line powered to offer subscribers the option to purchase a backup power solution capable of 8 hours of standby power, and within three years, a solution capable of 24 hours of backup power. The Report and Order also requires providers of covered services to disclose to subscribers information about: (a) availability of
backup power sources; (b) service limitations with and without backup power during a power outage;
(c) purchase and replacement options; (d) expected backup power duration; (e) proper usage and storage conditions for the backup power source; (f) subscriber backup power self-testing and monitoring instructions; and (g) backup power warranty details, if any.

The NASUCA Petition for Reconsideration alleged that the Report and Order departs from the approach set forth in the underlying Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by allowing consumers to choose whether to purchase backup power, and that certain conclusions in the Report and Order lacked adequate support. The Commission dismissed the NASUCA Petition for Reconsideration  because it repeats issues that commenters, including NASUCA et al., raised earlier in the proceeding, and that were fully considered and rejected in the Report and Order.

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