Maine regulators scrutinize FairPoint-Verizon proposal

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Maine utility regulators yesterday reviewed a 20-page negotiated agreement allowing FairPoint Communications’ proposed $2.7 billion buyout of Verizon Communications’ land lines in northern New England as they prepared to issue a final vote.

The Public Utilities Commission raised a wide range of questions relating to labor, enforcement and jurisdictional issues in the sale agreement, known as a stipulation, before opening deliberations that continued into the evening.

The stipulation worked out by the companies, the PUC staff, some smaller telephone companies and Maine’s Public Advocate is opposed by unions representing Verizon employees.

Charlotte, N.C.-based FairPoint hopes to take ownership of Verizon’s 1.6 million access lines and Internet service in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The deal also requires approval from Vermont and New Hampshire regulators. Vermont’s Public Service Board has rejected the deal but invited the company to submit a revised application. New Hampshire’s PUC staff recommended against the initial proposal, but it is also willing to consider a revised deal.

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