by Telecommunications Companies Seeking a Certificate of Public Good
- What is a Certificate of Public Good?
- What is the difference between the Public Utility Commission and the Department of Public Service?
- Is there a fee for filing an application for a CPG?
- Will my company pay an additional assessment?
- Will my company be required to pay into a state Universal Service Fund?
- Once my company is certified, what are the annual reporting requirements?
- Where can I get information about the requirements for tariff filings?
- If my company has a CPG to provide in-state toll service, does it need a separate CPG to provide local service?
- Can my company file one CPG registration form for both local and in-state toll service?
- Can my company use an out-of-state attorney or agent to file a CPG application?
- How long will the review process take after my company files its application?
- Does my company need Commission approval for financing, or stock or asset transfers?
- Does my company need Commission approval to change its corporate name, or to add a trade name?
- Are there policies not found in Vermont Statutes and Public Utility Commission Rules about which my company should be aware?
A Certificate of Public Good (CPG) is a document issued by the Public Utility Commission under 30 V.S.A. § 231 which authorizes a company to own or operate a telecommunications business in Vermont. A company wishing to provide telecommunications services in Vermont must first obtain a CPG from the Public Utility Commission. The Commission issues CPGs only upon finding that the operation of the telecommunications business will serve the general good of the state.
The Public Utility Commission is a quasi-judicial Commission that supervises the rates, quality of service, and overall management of Vermont's cable television companies and public utilities. The Public Utility Commission exercises its regulatory functions through in-house reviews of filed contracts, tariffs, and compliance filings, contested hearings, and agency rulemakings. It reviews formal complaints brought either directly by individuals or groups of consumers, or through the Department of Public Service. The Public Utility Commission may be reached at:
Public Utility Commission
112 State Street, 4th Floor
Montpelier, VT 05620-2701
Phone: (802) 828-2358
Fax: (802) 828-3351
TTY (VT Relay): (800) 253-0191
The Department of Public Service is the administrative agency charged with representing the public interest through its Public Advocacy Division in public utility cases before the Public Utility Commission, federal regulatory agencies, and state and federal courts. The Department's Planning Division plans for the state's telecommunications needs through the Vermont Telecommunications Plan. The Department of Public Service receives and reports on informal consumer complaints through its Consumer Affairs and Public Information Division (CAPI), resolving individual disputes through informal advocacy with the utility and making recommendations on consumer protections and enforcement action when needed. CAPI also provides information for consumers about industries regulated by the Commission through publications and the media. The Department's Telecommunications Division coordinates the Department's telecommunications-related activities and has primary responsibility for developing the Department’s recommendations to the Public Utility Commission on filings made by telecommunications companies. You can reach the Department of Public Service at:
Department of Public Service
112 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05620-2601
Phone: (802) 828-2811
Fax: (802) 828-2342
TTY (VT): (800)734-8390
If your company's CPG is approved, you will be required to pay annually to the Department of Public Service .0050 percent of your company’s gross operating revenue derived from conducting business in Vermont (whether the business is intrastate or interstate telecommunications service) or $500, whichever is greater, even if you have no approved tariff or no customers. The gross revenue tax must be paid at the same time the annual report is filed (see below). If you still have remaining questions on the gross revenue tax, you may contact the Department’s Finance & Economics Division at (802) 828-2811.
Yes. The Universal Service Fund was created by the Legislature in 1993 to fund several programs. Today, these programs include the Lifeline Program for low income consumers, the Vermont Telecommunications Relay Services (VTRS) for deaf, hearing impaired and speech impaired people, the development of a statewide enhanced 911 system, and, if authorized in the future, funding to lower local phone bills in especially high-cost areas of the state.
All these programs are funded by the Universal Service Fund surcharge on consumers' phone bills, which carriers collect and remit to the fiscal agent. By state law, the charge cannot exceed two percent of the consumer's phone bill. Carriers should also note that the Public Utility Commission has ordered two notices be placed in consumer's bills annually, one in July or August announcing any change in the VUSF surcharge rate, and one in January or February which serves as an outreach reminder about Lifeline and other VUSF programs.
There are two important reporting requirements applicable to telecommunications companies in Vermont.
First, companies must file an annual report with the Department of Public Service and the Public Utility Commission as required by 30 V.S.A. § 22. In January, the Department of Public Service will send a blank annual report to your company representative: Sample Annual Report. The report must be fully completed. The report contains informational items, a balance sheet, and an income statement. This report must be completed and returned to the Department of Public Service no later than April 15. You may request a two-month extension in writing, addressed to the Economics Division. A copy of the report must also be filed with the Commission. If the Company has a specific company representative who should receive this report, please include this person's name, phone number, and address in your registration form. The gross revenue tax, which is the greater of .0050 percent of gross operating revenue or $500.00, must be paid at the same time the annual report is filed. For more information on the annual report you may contact the Department's Economics Division at (802) 828-2811.
Second, the Public Utility Commission adopted service quality standards for telecommunications companies in Docket No. 5903 (order of 7/2/99). Companies must track their performance against those standards on a monthly basis and report the results of the performance on a quarterly basis to the Commission and the Department. For more information on the service quality standards and quarterly reporting requirement, please see the Department's service quality reporting form, instructions, and notice to customers.
If my company has a CPG to provide in-state toll service, does it need a separate CPG to provide local service?
No. Your company will need to petition the Public Utility Commission for an amendment to your existing CPG to reflect authorization to provide service to the local exchange.
While there is no statutory deadline for review of CPG applications, routine applications will be completed in three months on average. Failure to correctly complete the registration form will delay the processing of your application for a Certificate of Public Good.
A company name change requires Public Utility Commission approval whereas the use of a trade name only requires that the company file with the Commission a copy of the Secretary of State authorization to use the trade name.
Are there policies not found in Vermont Statutes and Public Utility Commission Rules about which my company should be aware?
Yes. The Public Utility Commission has issued orders in several dockets of which any prospective applicant should be aware. These include Dockets:
- 6255 (Order of 7/28/99)
- 6012 (Order of 12/28/99)
- 5903 (Order of 7/2/99)
- 5713 (Order of 5/2/96, Order of 8/20/97, and Order of 2/4/99)
- 5566 (Order of 1/6/95)