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PSNH, cable firms agree to pole costs

CONCORD - The Public Utilities Commission on Jan. 17 approved an agreement between PSNH and Time Warner Cable on fees for pole attachments, ending a dispute between the two companies.

The order establishes a formula applicable to all cable and competitive telecommunications carrier attachments and limits PSNH rates to levels consistent with Federal Communications Commission formulas.

"The record indicates that this rate methodology offers potential cost savings, which may stimulate infrastructure development in New Hampshire," the commissioners wrote in their ruling, "while ensuring that the interests of PSNH ratepayers and investors are also protected."

Intervenors Comcast and segTEL also participated in the settlement.

According to an advisory posted on a legal forum hosted by JD Supra Law News, the case involved the first challenge to utility pole rates under New Hampshire's 2009 pole attachment rate rules.

"The new formula and the PUC's acknowledgement that it results in just and reasonable rates should provide guidance to other pole owners and attachers in New Hampshire," the advisory stated, "and could be influential in other certified states where pole rates may exceed the cable rate."

PSNH spokesman Martin Murray said the company believes the settlement is fair and in the public interest.

In a separate action, PSNH and Time Warner recently settled a lawsuit in which the utility company sued to recoup more than a $1 million from the cable provider for utility pole attachments.

"That lawsuit has been settled separate from the PUC order," Murray said. "The terms are confidential."

That case was filed in Merrimack County Superior Court in February and was moved to federal court in March.


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