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California publishes draft resolutions on Last Mile Fund

California

Applicants for the California Last Mile Federal Funding Account can expect to hear back soon.

California publishes draft resolutions on Last Mile Fund
photo by California Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2021 by Jane Tyska of Bay Area News Group

June 7, 2024 – The The California Public Utilities Commission began on Friday to issue ongoing public recommendations for its Last Mile Federal Funding Account grants.

Staff recommendations are issued as “draft proposals” for public comment. Recommendations must then be approved by the CPU before grants are officially awarded.

An application not recommended for award in the initial decisions may be recommended for award in a subsequent decision. Some awards qualify for 'ministerial awards', meaning that staff can make the award without a vote of the Commission.

The application deadline for the award was in September and the first appeal period ended in November after a 28-day appeal period.

The CPU’s federal financing account received over 450 applicationswith at least two applications submitted for every county in the state. Total grant applications totaled over $4.6 billion for last-mile broadband infrastructure projects.

CPU staff is currently analyzing applications, objections and responses to select applications that will receive the requested funds. The state has $2 billion available for last-mile infrastructure projects.

In 2021, Governor … Gavin Newson (D) signed a law that provided a total of $6 billion for broadband infrastructure projects across the state. Another $550 million was added to this the following year, followed by another $73 million from a federal grant in 2023.

Of the 6 billion dollars $3.25 was earmarked for the nationwide middle mile network$750 million will help local governments and nonprofits secure private financing to build fiber optic networks, and $50 million will be provided in technical assistance grants.

California officials said Wednesday that the middle mile program is ahead of schedule, although it is expected to be completed after the Governor's office withdrew promised money last month.