Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Burlington Telecom Sale

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Friday, January 17, 2020, the Vermont Supreme Court issued an opinion that will give final resolution to the sale of Burlington Telecom by the City of Burlington and Blue Water Holdings LLC to Champlain Broadband, LLC. Attorneys Ralphine O’Rourke and Paul Phillips represented the City in proceedings before the Vermont Public Utility Commission and the Vermont Supreme Court.The Court affirmed the Public Utility Commission’s issuance of a Certificate of Public Good and the approval of the sale of assets of Burlington Telecom. The intervenors, a few city residents and taxpayers, challenged the PUC’s decision because the PUC did not include conditions to ensure City taxpayers would recoup all of the unreimbursed advances previously made by the City. The PUC had determined that the transaction would promote the public good because it would ensure the City recouped the maximum share of proceeds from the sale under the approved 2014 Blue Water agreement. It would provide the City with the option to purchase a membership interest in the purchaser that could allow for further recovery of written off losses. In its decision, the Court stated that “given the time frames set forth in the PUC approved Blue Water agreement, upending the sales transaction reached by petitioners in this proceeding would likely impose additional financial burdens on Burlington Telecom customers and City taxpayers” Further the Court stated that the record fully supports the PUC’s conclusion that the petition to approve the sale and issue the CPG to the purchaser promotes the public good.

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