(a) In order to implement and carry out the intent of this article in type 2 and type 3 unserved areas, the council shall propose rules for legislative approval, pursuant to the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, to develop comprehensive, uniform guidelines for use by the council in evaluating any request by a project sponsor for funding assistance to plan, acquire, construct, improve or otherwise develop and execute a broadband deployment project in a type 2 or type 3 unserved area. The council may promulgate emergency rules pending authorization of the legislative rules.
(b) The guidelines shall include the following:
(1) The cost-effectiveness of the project;
(2) The economic development benefits of the project;
(3) The availability of alternative sources of funding that could help finance the project, including, but not limited to, private grants or federal funding and the efforts undertaken to obtain such funding;
(4) If the project requires the construction of a network, the applicant's ability to operate and maintain such network;
(5) The degree to which the project advances statewide broadband access and other state broadband planning goals;
(6) If the project involves the construction of a network, the proposed technologies, bandwidths, upstream data rates and downstream data rates;
(7) The estimated dates the project would commence and be completed;
(8) How the proposed project compares to alternative proposals for the same unserved area with regard to the number of people served, the amount of financial assistance sought, and the long- term viability of the proposed project; and
(9) Any other consideration the council deems pertinent in evaluating requests for funding assistance.
(c) Under no circumstances may the council's guidelines allow for the approval of any project for broadband service involving the construction of a network that does not meet the minimum specifications for broadband service as set by the Federal Communications Commission.
(d) The council shall create an application form that shall be used by all project sponsors requesting funding assistance from the council to plan, acquire, construct, improve or otherwise develop and execute broadband deployment projects in type 2 or type 3 unserved areas or broadband demand promotion projects. The application form shall advise applicants of information required by state agencies that will issue permits and certificates regarding the project.
(e) The application form shall require the project sponsor to set forth:
(1) The proposed location of the project;
(2) If the project involves the construction of a network, the type(s) of unserved area(s) the project proposes to address;
(3) The estimated total cost of the project;
(4) The amount of funding assistance required and the specific uses of the funding;
(5) Other sources of funding available or potentially available for the project;
(6) Information demonstrating the need for the project;
(7) That the proposed funding of the project is the most economically feasible and viable alternative to completing the project; and
(8) Such other information as the council considers necessary.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2014 1st Special Session
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