Vol. 33 Iss. 8 - December 12, 2016




CASE NO. PUC-2016-00055

Ex Parte: In re: revising the
Virginia Universal Service Plan
to conform to changes in federal
regulations regarding Lifeline


Following passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 USC § 251 et seq., the State Corporation Commission ("Commission") adopted changes to the Virginia Universal Service Plan ("VUSP") to conform to the federal requirements adopted by the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") for determining customer eligibility to participate in the Lifeline program.1 The Commission found that "it is in the public interest for eligible local exchange carriers operating in Virginia to participate in [Lifeline] and take advantage of available federal funds to make local telephone service even more affordable for qualifying low-income customers."2 As in 1997, currently all incumbent local exchange providers in Virginia participate in the VUSP.3 Additionally, there is presently one competitive local exchange carrier, Cox Virginia Telcom, L.L.C., that has been designated by the Commission, pursuant to 47 USC § 214 (e), to be an eligible telecommunications carrier to receive federal universal service support for Lifeline service provided in Virginia.4

The FCC has adopted changes to its Lifeline eligibility requirements as part of its efforts to modernize Lifeline for the twenty-first century.5 These changes include revisions to the manner through which individuals may be determined to be eligible to participate in Lifeline.6 The FCC stated that its changes will "streamline the criteria for Lifeline program qualification in recognition of the way the vast majority of Lifeline subscribers gain entry to the program" and add a new method through which veterans may qualify.7 Accordingly, the FCC concluded that it will allow entry to Lifeline based on participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, the Veterans Pension benefits and Survivor Pension benefits programs, and all current Tribal qualifying programs, and to low-income consumers who demonstrate income of less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.8 These changes to the FCC's regulations are to become effective December 2, 2016.9

NOW THE COMMISSION, upon consideration of the foregoing, is of the opinion and finds that the VUSP again should be amended to conform to the revised requirements for eligibility adopted by the FCC for participation in Lifeline.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED THAT:

(1) This matter is docketed and assigned Case No. PUC-2016-00055.

(2) The VUSP hereby is amended to conform to the eligibility requirements adopted by the FCC. In accordance with the FCC's 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, such revised eligibility requirements shall be effective December 2, 2016.

(3) This case is dismissed.

AN ATTESTED COPY hereof shall be sent by the Clerk of the Commission to: C. Meade Browder, Jr., Senior Assistant Attorney General, Division of Consumer Counsel, Office of the Attorney General, 202 North Ninth Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219; and each local exchange carrier certificated in Virginia as listed on Appendix A. A copy also shall be delivered to the Commission's Office of General Counsel and Division of Public Utility Regulation.


1 Commonwealth of Virginia, ex rel, State Corporation Commission, Ex parte: In re: Consideration of changes in universal service support for low-income customers as required by federal regulations, Case No. PUC-1997-00166, 1997 S.C.C. Ann. Rept. 323 (Dec. 17, 1997).

2 Id.

3 Id.

4 Commonwealth of Virginia, ex rel., State Corporation Commission, Ex parte: In re: Implementation of Requirements of § 214 (e) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Case No. PUC-1997-00135; Application of Cox Virginia Telcom, LLC., For designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier under 47 U.S.C. § 214 (e), Case No. PUC-2012-00059, 2012 S.C.C. Ann. Rept. 205, Order (Dec. 14, 2012).

5 In the matter of: Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, WC Docket No. 11-42, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support, WC Docket No. 09-197, Connect America Fund, WC Docket No. 10-90, Third Report and Order, Further Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, 31 FCC Red 3962, para. 1-7 (2016) ("2016 Lifeline Modernization Order").

6 Id.

7 Id. at para. 7.

8 Id. at paras. 7, 167-212.

9 See id. at para. 167.

Bureau of Insurance

November 15, 2016

Administrative Letter 2016-09

To: All Insurers Providing Health Insurance Coverage in Virginia, Health Maintenance Organizations, Health Services Plans, Dental and Optometric Services Plans, and Dental Plan Organizations

Re: Provider Discount Arrangements

The purpose of this administrative letter is to provide guidance to carriers offering managed care health insurance plans that include options for plan members to obtain services from non-network providers at discounted rates through a provider discount arrangement.

For purposes of this letter, a provider discount arrangement is a contractual arrangement between a carrier and a third party vendor under which the carrier's members have access to the third party vendor's contracted providers for non-network benefits at discounted rates. The contract between the third party vendor and the providers may also have a "hold harmless" clause that prohibits the providers from balance billing.  When a carrier has this type of arrangement, plan members have two choices when utilizing non-network providers for covered services:

• Plan members may receive services from non-network providers participating in the provider discount arrangement at discounted rates; or

• Plan members may receive services from any other non-network providers.

Carriers using provider discount arrangements may not refer to the providers participating in this type of arrangement in any of its forms or advertising materials as being part of a network as this would be incorrect and misleading, and may result in confusion among consumers or plan members.

Policy forms must clearly define network providers, non-network providers, and non-network providers that participate in a provider discount arrangement and must accurately describe the member's benefits and responsibilities when utilizing each type of provider. 

A carrier must clearly distinguish between network providers, non-network providers and non-network providers that participate in a provider discount arrangement in any printed or electronic directory that lists the provider types.

When a carrier has both a contract with a provider and a contract with a third party vendor that is providing the carrier access to the same provider for non-network services at negotiated discounted rates, claims must be adjudicated based on the terms of the carrier's contract with the provider and in accordance with the terms of the policy for network benefits.

Please refer any questions regarding this matter to: Julie Fairbanks, Bureau of Insurance, Life and Health Division, State Corporation Commission, P.O. Box 1157, Richmond, VA 23218, telephone (804) 371-9385, FAX (804) 371-9944, or email


Grasshopper Solar LLC Notice of Intent - Small Renewable Energy (Solar) Project Permit by Rule - Mecklenburg County

Geenex Solar, on behalf of Grasshopper Solar, LLC, has provided a notice of intent to submit to the Department of Environmental Quality the necessary documentation for a permit by rule for a small renewable energy solar project in Mecklenburg County. The project is an 80-megawatt, alternating current, ground-mounted solar photovoltaic facility to be located between Highway 47 and Highway 49 on approximately 913 acres just to the north of Chase City, Virginia. The facility is currently designed with a single-axis tracking system utilizing approximately 285,286 polycrystalline 340-watt solar panels.

Contact Information: Mary E. Major, Department of Environmental Quality, 629 East Main Street, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, telephone (804) 698-4423, FAX (804) 698-4510, or email

Proposed State Mitigation Plan for the Volkswagen Partial Consent Decree - Notice of Informal Public Comment Period

On October 25, 2016, a Partial Consent Decree was finalized between the U.S. Justice Department, the Volkswagen Corporation, and its subsidiaries regarding the installation and use of emissions testing defeat devices in approximately 500,000 2.0-liter vehicles sold and operated in the United States beginning in 2009. Use of these defeat devices has increased air emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOX), resulting in adverse impacts to air quality and violating the federal Clean Air Act. NOX emissions contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, which impairs lung function and cardiovascular health.

An Environmental Mitigation Trust has been established as part the settlement that provides funds to the states to mitigate the air quality impacts of the higher 2.0-liter vehicle emissions from the offending action. The initial share to Virginia from the trust is up to $87.6 million. The trust establishes a process to administer the funds, a process for states to receive funds, and identifies categories of eligible mitigation actions and expenditures.

In response to the settlement, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has developed a proposed state mitigation plan intended to provide the public with insight into the Commonwealth's vision for the eligible uses of the trust mitigation funds. This proposed plan is focused on the eligible types of mitigation actions that can produce the greatest air quality benefit in terms of NOX emission reductions, reduce public exposure, and promote clean vehicle technologies. The proposed state mitigation plan can be found at

DEQ is announcing an informal public comment period on the proposed state mitigation plan. Because the mitigation plan is expected to have a significant positive impact on the Commonwealth, DEQ is requesting input from the public to help inform the development of the final mitigation plan prior to taking any formal action. In addition to seeking general comments on the overall plan approach, DEQ is seeking specific comments on the proposed distribution of funding for the categories of eligible mitigation actions, and specific recommendations and information on possible mitigation projects to be considered by the Commonwealth. However, this is not a formal solicitation for projects.

How to comment to DEQ: Email written comments to, send a FAX to (804) 698-4510, or send postal mail to the Air Division, Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, from November 17, 2016, to December 16, 2016. Please provide full name, address, and telephone number.

Public meeting: DEQ is holding an informal public meeting from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on December 7, 2016, at the Administration Board Room, Henrico County Government Center, 4301 East Parham Road, Henrico, VA 23228. The only topic under consideration will be the proposed state mitigation plan and eligible mitigation actions under the plan.

Federal information: The full Partial Settlement, including Appendix D that specifically deals with the Environmental Mitigation Trust, as well as additional information are available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at

Virginia information: DEQ has established a web page with information about Virginia's actions for meeting the requirements of the settlement and the Environmental Mitigation Trust:
. This page will be updated periodically as new information and opportunities for public comment become available.

Contact Information: VWMitigation, Department of Environmental Quality, 629 East Main Street, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, telephone (804) 698-4426, or email


Notice of Periodic Review and Small Business Impact Review

Pursuant to Executive Order 17 (2014) and §§ 2.2-4007.1 and 2.2-4017 of the Code of Virginia, the State Board of Health is currently reviewing each of the regulations listed below to determine whether the regulation should be repealed, amended, or retained in its current form. The review of each regulation will be guided by the principles in Executive Order 17 (2014). Public comment is sought on the review of any issue relating to each regulation, including whether the regulation (i) is necessary for the protection of public health, safety, and welfare or for the economical performance of important governmental functions; (ii) minimizes the economic impact on small businesses in a manner consistent with the stated objectives of applicable law; and (iii) is clearly written and easily understandable.

12VAC5-440, Regulations for Summer Camps

12VAC5-462, Swimming Pool Regulations Governing the Posting of Water Quality Test Results

The comment period begins November 15, 2016, and ends December 6, 2016.

Comments must include the commenter's name and address (physical or email) information in order to receive a response to the comment from the agency. Following the close of the public comment period, a report of both reviews will be posted on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, and a report of the small business impact review will be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations.

Contact Information: Julie Henderson, Director of Food and General Environmental Services, Department of Health, 109 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219, telephone (804) 864-7455, FAX (804) 864-7475, or email


Notice to State Agencies

Contact Information: Mailing Address: Virginia Code Commission, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street, 2nd Floor, Richmond, VA 23219; Telephone: Voice (804) 786-3591; Email:

Meeting Notices: Section 2.2-3707 C of the Code of Virginia requires state agencies to post meeting notices on their websites and on the Commonwealth Calendar at

Cumulative Table of Virginia Administrative Code Sections Adopted, Amended, or Repealed: A table listing regulation sections that have been amended, added, or repealed in the Virginia Register of Regulations since the regulations were originally published or last supplemented in the print version of the Virginia Administrative Code is available at

Filing Material for Publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations: Agencies use the Regulation Information System (RIS) to file regulations and related items for publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations. The Registrar's office works closely with the Department of Planning and Budget (DPB) to coordinate the system with the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. RIS and Town Hall complement and enhance one another by sharing pertinent regulatory information.