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CPN Master Homeowners Association wins long battle (7-31-03)

Qwest will drop the “Distance Charge” from resident’s phone bills, effective August 1. The fees might be gone by the time of your August billing, or it may appear as an adjustment on your September bill. This will save most CPN residents $144 per year for each phone line that you have.

Residents of Castle Pines North have been paying up to $12.00 per month, per phone line, a charge that had been assessed by USWest based on CPN’s distance from the central switching station and the small number of phone lines in our relatively rural community – twenty years ago.

Back when this fee was established, technical constraints required the phone company to build a new central office whenever new areas developed. If one had been built in our area, we wouldn’t have the surcharge. Now the technology is different, and it’s now possible to serve areas like ours from a distant central office. The problem has been that – until now – the rate structure has never been updated to reflect this new reality.

Lisa and Mark Towne, CPN residents and proprietors of Little Italy, kicked off an organized protest about two years ago by filing petitions with the PUC. They then responded to hundreds of pages of legal filings from Qwest’s attorneys.

Once it became clear that this was going to be an enormous undertaking, the CPN Master Association provided funding for an attorney to present our case to the PUC. A citizen committee was formed, anchored by the personal efforts of Linda Nuzum, Kings Crossing resident and Master Association President, as well as by Mark Fei, a BristleCone resident who brought his telecommunications expertise to the table.

The committee spent countless volunteer hours researching the case, and put together a presentation that graphically illustrated how the surcharge makes no sense for our area. Their efforts also included getting in contact with other recently-built neighborhoods, such as Roxborough, Broomfield, and Evergreen, that also were being assessed the charge. As a result, the PUC received more than 245 complaints about the issue during the last fiscal year.

But in order to get relief, we needed the PUC to tackle the complex question of updating the rate structure state-wide. The Public Utilities Commission consists of three political appointees who make all of the states’s policy decisions about utility regulation. The PUC staff and Qwest spent the past several months developing the proposal that was announced in early July. On July 30, just as this newsletter was going to press, the PUC approved Qwest’s request.

CPN’s residents are grateful for the efforts of the hard-working people who volunteered their personal time for the benefit of the entire community.



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