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Telecom Reform: New Congress, New Bill

Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 1995

communications services on a commercial basis.

Boucher noted that the 14 electric utility registered holding companies are barred by the Public Utility Holding Company Act from offering telecommunications services. Although these holding company utilities provide 20 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States, only the utilities offering the other 80 percent are allowed to offer telecom services. Boucher would remove that restriction. He observed that utility demand-side management uses only 2 percent of the available space on fiber-optic lines, leaving 98 percent free for other uses. That excess capacity has caused the utilities to seek entry into the telecom market as telephone and video service providers. Nevertheless, Boucher feels that electric ratepayers should not bear the costs of the new services. The bill would require registered holding companies to conduct their communications activities through a separate subsidiary. The bill would also add consumer safeguards to telecom reform (em for example, giving the FERC and state commissions authority to prohibit

cross-subsidization. t


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