Mills signs Vitelli law making it easier for municipalities to expand high-speed internet

Posted: May 20, 2019 | Senator Vitelli

On Thursday, Gov. Janet Mills signed into law a bill from Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, to re-establish the ability of municipalities to attach their equipment to utility poles without paying “make-ready” fees.

“Access to reliable, high-speed internet is an issue up and down the state. LD 1192 becoming law will help our municipalities make real progress in providing access for their residents,” said Sen. Vitelli. “When towns and cities take the proactive step to set up municipal broadband offerings, they shouldn’t be roadblocked by utility companies and unreasonable cost estimates.”

As amended, LD 1192, “An Act To Establish Municipal Access to Utility Poles Located in Municipal Rights-of-way,” exempts municipalities from “make-ready” fees when they’re attaching equipment related to community safety or providing broadband services to unserved or underserved areas.

Previously, due to recent rule changes from the Maine Public Utilities Commission, entities attaching equipment to utility poles had to pay what are called “make-ready” fees to utilities to compensate them for the labor related to getting the poles ready for the new attachments.

The Maine Municipal Association, city of Lewiston, city of Sanford and town of Islesboro all spoke in favor of LD 1192 at a public hearing earlier this year, as well as a representative of the 3 Bridged Island Broadband project, which would bring broadband to Arrowsic, Georgetown and Southport.

LD 1192 — as with all public laws in Maine passed without an “emergency clause” — will take effect 90 days following the end of the legislative session. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 19.