Sunday, May 05, 2013

California PUC-created nonprofit warrants review

Today’s Sacramento Bee reports on the increased legislative scrutiny being applied to the California Public Utilities Commission and whether it is adequately fulfilling its mission of ensuring safe and reliable utility service.

According to the Bee, a California Senate committee is requesting that the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission investigate nonprofits established by the PUC for “possible conflicts of interest or bequesting violations” including the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF).

Lawmakers should also look into whether the CETF is fulfilling its stated mission “to close the ‘Digital Divide’ by accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband to unserved and underserved communities and populations.”

A review of the CETF website, its annual reports and a summary of 2013 grant investments shows no funding awarded to advance the direct, tangible deployment of advanced telecommunications infrastructure to serve residential premises despite findings by a state broadband task force in 2008 that nearly 2,000 California towns and communities lack broadband access.

Without the infrastructure for broadband access, promoting its adoption is putting the cart before the horse and nothing more than window dressing. This is policy failure piled on top of market failure.

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