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Maine Public Utilities Commissioners Question Fairpoint
September 10, 2009
Maine Public Utilities Commissioners Question FairPoint
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine Public Utilities Commissioners joined with their colleagues from NH and VT in an unusual joint conference yesterday—September 9th—in Derry, New Hampshire to hear a report from FairPoint executives. Commission Chairman Sharon Reishus and Commissioner Vendean Vafiadas questioned the Company closely about their organizational challenges, operational performance, and financial difficulties. FairPoint answered the questions and indicated that they need more time to make the improvements rate payers and regulators are seeking.
FairPoint has been dogged by continuing operational and financial difficulties following the “cut-over” from Verizon systems to Fairpoint in February 2009 which resulted from Fairmont’s purchase of Verizon systems in northern New England. The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) is already holding the Company to a variety of deadlines, reporting requirements, and possible penalties in order to push for rapid comprehensive improvements at FairPoint.
At yesterday’s meeting, Chairman Reishus made clear in her opening statement that, “We all look forward today to hearing from you (FairPoint) realistic, concrete solutions to the Company’s performance problems which are affecting all of us.“
After hearing the Commissioners’ concerns, the Company acknowledged the frustration of customers and regulators. They responded that they are trying as quickly as they can to remedy their internal problems. FairPoint has not said when they expect to return to normal and this is a problem for ratepayers and regulators. The MPUC is poised to analyze reports in coming weeks and take such action as may be needed to hold FairPoint accountable to its promises.
Chairman Reishus reminded FairPoint that the MPUC—along with the Commissions in Vermont and New Hampshire—allowed the FairPoint-Verizon merger case to move forward after determining that FairPoint had the ability to manage Verizon’s network in Northern New England, and, importantly, to improve it with substantial capital investment in broadband technologies.
“Such infrastructure is critical, not just to [FairPoint’s] success as a viable company, but the economic and social well-being of the citizens of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire,” noted Reishus. “FairPoint’s problems have become problems for many of the ratepayers of our three states, and therefore they are also our problems…You need to provide service at the high quality level expected by ratepayers of Northern New England. Only then will you stop losing customers, and only then will you be able to shore up your revenues.”
The Maine Public Utilities Commission is committed to ensuring that consumers have access to safe and reliable service for public utilities and that the rates for these utilities are just and reasonable. PUC programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service, Dig Safe, and Efficiency Maine.
To arrange an interview with Chairman Sharon Reishus, Commissioner Vendean Vafiades or Commissioner Jack Cashman, please contact Evelyn deFrees at 207.287.6141 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Commission’s website, www.maine.gov/mpuc may be accessed through the Maine School and Library Network at all public libraries in Maine.
CONTACT: Evelyn deFrees 207-287-6141; 207-485-4243 cell email@example.com
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