Ask the average Minnesotan what the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) does, and you are likely to get a blank stare or maybe a semi-informed guess about how they regulate public utilities, you know, as a commission.
It’s true, the less we hear about the Public Utilities Commission, the better they are likely doing at their stated mission of, “regulation of public utilities such as electric, natural gas and landline telephone service. The PUC also has oversight of the construction or modifications to large energy facilities such as electric power plants, transmission lines, wind power generation plants, and large natural gas and petroleum pipelines.”
So, it is only understandable that a decision the PUC made in late November didn’t get a lot of attention, but it will have an impact that will literally be felt throughout the state. The state’s largest telephone service provider CenturyLink, was able to convince the PUC to let them stop delivering telephone books to all of its customers. The move follows a successful effort in 2012 by the smaller telephone service provider Frontier to do the same.
There is a great expense, not only financial, but also environmental, in producing the huge number of phone books they were producing every year. Centurylink prints 94 million pages per year for its Minneapolis white pages alone, but will not longer need to.
The new regulation will still require the company to provide white pages to those who request them, but by doing so, the company will be able to save a lot of paper by not mass producing a book with an ever-shrinking fan base.
While this is good news for Centurylink customers, there are still other white pages out there that will continue to be delivered. Thankfully, the phonebook industry along with Conservation Minnesota has created a website that allows Minnesota residents to opt-out of receiving any future phonebook, as well as providing a resource for finding locations where existing phonebooks can be recycled. The site can be found at http://www.donttrashthephonebook.com.