Bright Fiber sale on hold until November | TheUnion.com

Bright Fiber sale on hold until November

The state's Public Utilities Commission has suspended the process of selling the Bright Fiber high-speed internet project to address issues and concerns raised by the public, a suspension scheduled to last into autumn, a commission spokesman said Monday.

The suspension of an "advice letter," which details the sale of Bright Fiber to Race Communications, occurred Wednesday — the same day a public comment period about the proposed transaction ended. Commission staff now will review issues and concerns raised in various letters it received.

"The Advice Letter suspension gives our staff time to review the Advice Letter and make a determination on whether the transaction meets the requirements for ministerial review," said Christopher Chow, public information officer with the commission, in an email.

The suspension will last until Nov. 19, Chow added.

According to Chow, the commission currently is waiting for Race Communications to respond to the public comments. Commission staff may still consider additional comments submitted by the public, despite the passing of last week's deadline. However, public input stops once Race files its response, Chow said.

Ally Hetland, with Race Communications, declined comment when contacted Monday. She said Race will answer questions after regulatory approval by the utilities commission.

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John Paul, CEO of Bright Fiber, couldn't be reached for comment.

The suspension of the advice letter is the latest development in a project started years ago.

The utilities commission in December 2015 granted Paul almost $17 million in state funds for the fiber optic project. Paul needed to secure some $12 million in private money to secure the state funds.

Weeks ago Paul said Race Communications would purchase Bright Fiber, citing problems with his company obtaining the private dollars necessary for the grant.

Approval by the utilities commission is necessary for Bright Fiber's sale to Race.

The June 20 advice letter, a document that's part of the proposed sale, states that Race would primarily use aerial delivery on existing poles, a change from the project that initially would have most of the fiber optic network underground.

That letter also said people who wanted to protest the sale had 20 days from June 20. However, no notification of that protest period was required because Bright Fiber has no customers, the letter stated.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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