The Illinois Commerce Commission (“Commission”) was granted the explicit authority to establish a universal service fund on August 20, 1999. That statutory authority is set forth in Section 13-301 of the Illinois Public Utilities Act (“IPUA”). § 13-301(d) applies to universal service funding for those incumbent local exchange carriers who pursuant to the Twenty-Seventh Interim Order of the Commission in Docket No. 83-0142 or to the Orders of the Commission in Docket No. 97-0621 and Docket No. 98-0679.
On March 16, 2000, Docket No. 00-0233 was initiated with the filing by the Illinois Independent Telephone Association (“IITA”) of a Petition seeking the initiation of an investigation of the necessity of and the establishment of a Universal Service Support Fund in accordance with § 13-301(d) of the Illinois Public Utilities Act (“IPUA”).
The Illinois Commerce Commission (“Commission”) entered an order on March 29, 2000 in Phase 2 of Docket Nos. 97-0601/97-0602/97-0516 (Consolidated) that, among other things, deferred all universal issues that had been raised in that case to a new proceeding through which the Commission contemplated that it would conduct a comprehensive investigation pursuant to § 13-301(d) of the Illinois Public Utilities Act.
That investigation was initiated in Docket No. 00-0335 pursuant to the Commission order entered on May 10, 2000. The Commission’s May 10, 2000 order directed that Docket Nos. 00-0335 and 00-233 be consolidated.
The present Illinois Universal Fund began October 1, 2001, pursuant to the Second Interim Order entered on September 18, 2001 in Cons. Docket Nos. 00-0233 and 00-335.
Investigate the necessity of and, if appropriate, establish a universal service support fund from which local exchange telecommunications carriers who pursuant to the Twenty-Seventh Interim Order of the Commission in Docket 83-0142 or the orders of the Commission in Docket No. 97‑0621 and Docket No. 98‑0679 received funding and whose economic costs of providing services for which universal service support may be made available exceed the affordable rate established by the Commission for such services may be eligible to receive support, less any federal universal service support received for the same or similar costs of providing the supported services; provided, however, that if a universal service support fund is established, the Commission shall require that all costs of the fund be recovered from all local exchange and interexchange telecommunications carriers certificated in Illinois on a competitively neutral and nondiscriminatory basis. In establishing any such universal service support fund, the Commission shall, in addition to the determination of costs for supported services, consider and make findings pursuant to subsection (2) of this Section. Proxy cost, as determined by the Commission, may be used for this purpose. In determining cost recovery for any universal service support fund, the Commission shall not permit recovery of such costs from another certificated carrier for any service purchased and used solely as an input to a service provided to such certificated carrier’s retail customers.