Despite unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee, S.166 (a bill focusing on utility worksite cleanup and consumer protection) did not make it out of the Senate Finance Committee intact. Introduced by Senators Hardy, Pearson,
MacDonald and Starr, the language would have required the Public Utility Commission to revise its rules to include enhanced consumer protection provisions related to the cleanup of utility construction sites. This was directly related to an incident on the Hoyt Dairy Farm in Tunbridge, where a subcontractor left wire in a hayfield that was unknowingly chopped into sileage and fed to an organic herd, resulting in loss of animals, feed and income. (Other incidences of dropped wire – used to connect the broadband fiber to the utility wires – were found across the state and over many years).
There was significant discussion and debate about S.166 in the Finance Committee and members were attempting to find a solution when the lobbyists for the insurance companies decided they didn’t like the language (but to our knowledge didn’t offer a compromise solution). Thanks to Senator Hardy, language was included in the Insurance Housekeeping bill from the Department of Financial Regulation that requires DFR to consult with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to develop a
guidance document to include recommendations related to standard insurance requirements and measure that ensure adequate coverage is in force for the duration of broadband construction projects. This shall be posted by the PUC and distributed to every broadband service provider registering with the State as well as to the Vermont Community Broadband Board for distribution to recipients of State Broadband construction grants.