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BWL settles lawsuit over damaged line

Peffley: Lightspeed makes ‘reasonable offer’


WEDNESDAY, April 10 — The Lansing Board of Water & Light has dropped a lawsuit against a local Internet provider following a “reasonable offer” of about $19,000, according to a recently signed settlement agreement.

BWL General Manager Dick Peffley said Lightspeed Communications CEO Jason Schreiber offered to pay after his company bored into an underground BWL electrical line in 2017, knocking out power for dozens of residents. BWL’s lawsuit sought $26,000; Peffley said $18,897.09 was close enough.

“It was a reasonable offer and it allows us to put this whole thing behind us,” Peffley added.

Schreiber said he thought it better to invest in building more networks rather than racking up more legal bills.

“Neither party admitted fault, but all conflicts between the parties were settled,” Schreiber added.

The complaint, filed last year in 30th Circuit Court, contended Lightspeed ignored warnings from BWL officials and destroyed an underground electrical line on the east side of Cambridge Street. The incident caused 30 homes to lose power for about 16 hours, according to the complaint. Lightspeed never paid for the damage.

Before a judge could decide the case this year, Peffley said Schreiber approached BWL about a settlement. Schreiber, had previously shifted blame back to BWL. His contention: Lightspeed only ignored invoices for the damage because BWL failed to properly flag the site before his company started digging.

The settlement agreement closes the case and relives either party from bearing responsibility. Lightspeed’s will cover “any and all attorney fees” incurred by the BWL, according to the agreement. Peffley also said the recent deal helped both sides avoid additional legal expenses.

“Jason Schreiber and I met, and we generated some plans that will benefit all (utility pole) attachers,” Peffley added. “I think, with this case being settled, that we’re headed in a better direction for everyone involved.”

Schreiber previously labeled the lawsuit as “one more example of BWL attempting to inhibit our progress” as his company works to bring fiber optic internet connections to every neighborhood in the city of Lansing. Peffley, after continued pressure from Lightspeed, announced preliminary plans to streamline that access late last year.

“I'm also pleased to share we've had productive discussions with BWL,” Schreiber said.

Lightspeed — under prior BWL policies — was forced to first seek permission from its primary competitors like AT&T or Comcast before it could attach to many utility poles across the city. Peffley said changes are underway to expedite those requests. Competitors that fail to respond in a timely fashion will now be moved regardless.

“I'm hopeful this will result in an accelerated rollout of LightSpeed fiber in the region,” Schreiber said.


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