Enabling the Use of Electricity Infrastructure for Ontario's Broadband and Cellular Action Plan
Bill or Act:
Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998
Summary of Proposal:
The 2021 Budget commits a historic new investment of $2.8 billion in broadband infrastructure to ensure that every region in the province has access to reliable high-speed broadband services by 2025. Combined with prior commitments, the new funding announced in the 2021 Budget increases Ontario's overall investment in broadband to nearly $4 billion over six years beginning 2019-2020.
Ontario's local distribution companies (LDCs) deliver electricity safely and reliably to customers every day. Many of the assets owned by LDCs - such as electricity poles - can be used to support other infrastructure, including broadband. Recent amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 will allow the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines to develop regulations to support the use of electricity infrastructure in order to expedite the delivery of broadband across the province by 2025.
Regulatory action to support the initiative may include setting the wireline pole attachment charge or amending the cost allocation methodology for setting the wireline pole attachment charge. This charge ensures that carriers attaching to poles pay an appropriate share of the cost of buying, installing and maintaining poles.
Other regulatory actions could include the apportionment and treatment of the costs to make electricity infrastructure ready for broadband assets, ensuring that broadband expansion is considered in LDC capital planning, setting service standards for LDC response time in facilitating broadband attachment requests, and enabling broadband pilot projects.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
This proposal aims to support Ontario's Broadband Strategy by reducing regulatory barriers to the use of electricity infrastructure for broadband expansion.
LDCs may face additional engineering, planning, and administrative costs associated with this proposal. Part VI.1 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, allows for, at the discretion of the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, licenced parties to be compensated, in accordance with the regulations, for any lost revenue arising from the application of the Part.
May 3, 2021
Comments Due Date:
June 17, 2021
77 Grenville St., 6th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2C1