PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Maine utility regulators Thursday approved FairPoint Communications' bankruptcy reorganization plan and its request to modify an agreement it entered into with the state when it took over Verizon's landline and Internet operations.
By a 2-1 vote, the Public Utilities Commission approved FairPoint's petition seeking approval of its bankruptcy plan and changes to the commission's 2008 order approving FairPoint's $2.3 billion purchase of Verizon properties in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Among other things, FairPoint was seeking a six-month delay for completion of the first phase of its broadband expansion plans, a reduction in the number of broadband lines that had to be in service upon completion of its five-year expansion plan, and the ability to offer different pricing plans in different areas of the state.
PUC Chairwoman Sharon Reishus, who voted in favor of the petition, said FairPoint's reorganization will make it a stronger company better able to serve Maine customers. But Commissioner Vendean Vafiades, who voted against the proposal, said FairPoint is using the bankruptcy process to renege on previous commitments.
North Carolina-based FairPoint is seeking similar approvals in New Hampshire and Vermont, but regulators in those states have yet to make a decision.
Hobbled by heavy debt and operational problems, FairPoint filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October.
Mike Reed, FairPoint's Maine state president, said approvals from state regulators will allow it to move forward with plans to emerge from bankruptcy by early fall.