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US Supreme Court dismisses petition from electric firms on fee charges on infrastructure use

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(Credit: Reuters) This is an image of a telecommunications tower.telecommunications
October 7
1:43 PM 2013

The United States Supreme Court had dismissed a legal challenge by five power utilities firms as to the new federal rules effectively lowering the fees chargeable to telecommunications companies for use of their electric utility poles.

The justices upheld the validity of the rules promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission, which was previously upheld by an appeals court last February. A petition signed by American Electric Power Co, Duke Energy Corp, Energy Future Holdings Corp, NextEra Energy Inc and Southern Co was filed with the nation's highest court.

According to the petition, power companies estimated that in 2011, the FCC plan upheld would make them lose USD1.2 billion in fees revenues. During argumentation at the Supreme Court, the utilities said the rules may be applied to USD350 million in costs from telecommunications companies to electric utility rate payors.

In their appeal, "The FCC's abrupt reversal of course will fundamentally restructure the relationship between the electric and telephone industries." The court's dismissal is a win for AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc, two of the largest phone companies in the country. The phone companies supported the FCC in this fight at the Supreme Court. 

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