Last year, we wrote a number of posts discussing ongoing proceedings addressing the pole attachment fees being charged to cable and telecommunications Carriers (see here, here and here). At issue was whether the methodology for determining these fees, and the amounts of the fees, should be updated from the level that was set in 2005. Generally speaking, distributors support raising the rates (as seen in the Toronto Hydro, Hydro One and Hydro Ottawa rate applications) and Carriers object to the magnitude of the increases being sought.
Now, as promised in a Decision in the Hydro Ottawa rate proceeding, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has begun a process to determine the approach to be used to set wireline pole attachment fees across Ontario. In a November 2015 letter, the OEB initiated a “comprehensive policy review” of miscellaneous rates and charges. The OEB indicated that the first component of the review will address wireline pole attachment fees.
The OEB has asked interested parties to apply to be part of a Pole Attachments Working Group (PAWG). Presently, around 15 parties have applied to be part of the PAWG, but there has been no decision about who will be appointed. According to the OEB’s letter, the PAWG will provide advice on technical aspects and related details for pole attachment charges. The next step will then consider the methodology to be used to determine charges, including the appropriate treatment of revenues that the carriers may receive from third parties (for “overlashing”).
It is not clear how long the OEB’s “comprehensive policy review” will take. In the meantime, the proceeding to set the appropriate wireline pole attachment fees for Hydro One continues. According to a recent Procedural Order, there will be a Settlement Conference held in mid-January 2016 to try to resolve this issue. It is not clear whether and how the Hydro One/Carriers proceeding is impacted by the OEB’s “comprehensive policy review.”