54.16.320  <<  54.16.330 >>   54.16.340

Telecommunications facilitiesPurposesLimitationsProvision of telecommunications servicesEminent domain.

(1)(a) A public utility district in existence on June 8, 2000, may construct, purchase, acquire, develop, finance, lease, license, handle, provide, add to, contract for, interconnect, alter, improve, repair, operate, and maintain any telecommunications facilities within or without the district's limits for the following purposes:
(i) For the district's internal telecommunications needs;
(ii) For the provision of wholesale telecommunications services within the district and by contract with another public utility district.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (8) of this section, nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize public utility districts to provide telecommunications services to end users.
(2) A public utility district providing wholesale or retail telecommunications services shall ensure that rates, terms, and conditions for such services are not unduly or unreasonably discriminatory or preferential. Rates, terms, and conditions are discriminatory or preferential when a public utility district offering rates, terms, and conditions to an entity for wholesale or retail telecommunications services does not offer substantially similar rates, terms, and conditions to all other entities seeking substantially similar services.
(3) A public utility district providing wholesale or retail telecommunications services shall not be required to, but may, establish a separate utility system or function for such purpose. In either case, a public utility district providing wholesale or retail telecommunications services shall separately account for any revenues and expenditures for those services according to standards established by the state auditor pursuant to its authority in chapter 43.09 RCW and consistent with the provisions of this title. Any revenues received from the provision of wholesale or retail telecommunications services must be dedicated to costs incurred to build and maintain any telecommunications facilities constructed, installed, or acquired to provide such services, including payments on debt issued to finance such services, until such time as any bonds or other financing instruments executed after June 8, 2000, and used to finance such telecommunications facilities are discharged or retired.
(4) When a public utility district provides wholesale or retail telecommunications services, all telecommunications services rendered to the district for the district's internal telecommunications needs shall be allocated or charged at its true and full value. A public utility district may not charge its nontelecommunications operations rates that are preferential or discriminatory compared to those it charges entities purchasing wholesale or retail telecommunications services.
(5) If a person or entity receiving retail telecommunications services from a public utility district under this section has a complaint regarding the reasonableness of the rates, terms, conditions, or services provided, the person or entity may file a complaint with the district commission.
(6) A public utility district shall not exercise powers of eminent domain to acquire telecommunications facilities or contractual rights held by any other person or entity to telecommunications facilities.
(7) Except as otherwise specifically provided, a public utility district may exercise any of the powers granted to it under this title and other applicable laws in carrying out the powers authorized under this section. Nothing in chapter 81, Laws of 2000 limits any existing authority of a public utility district under this title.
(8)(a) If an internet service provider operating on telecommunications facilities of a public utility district that provides wholesale telecommunications services but does not provide retail telecommunications services, ceases to provide access to the internet to its end-use customers, and no other retail service providers are willing to provide service, the public utility district may provide retail telecommunications services to the end-use customers of the defunct internet service provider in order for end-use customers to maintain access to the internet until a replacement internet service provider is, or providers are, in operation.
(b) Within thirty days of an internet service provider ceasing to provide access to the internet, the public utility district must initiate a process to find a replacement internet service provider or providers to resume providing access to the internet using telecommunications facilities of a public utility district.
(c) For a maximum period of five months, following initiation of the process begun in (b) of this section, or, if earlier than five months, until a replacement internet service provider is, or providers are, in operation, the district commission may establish a rate for providing access to the internet and charge customers to cover expenses necessary to provide access to the internet.
(9) The tax treatment of the retail telecommunications services provided by a public utility district to the end-use customers during the period specified in subsection (8) of this section must be the same as if those retail telecommunications services were provided by the defunct internet service provider.

NOTES:

Findings2019 c 365: See note following RCW 43.330.532.
Findings2000 c 81: See note following RCW 53.08.005.
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