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Glossary of utility-related terms

2-1-1 – An abbreviated dialing code that directs callers to health and human services information and referral providers.

3-1-1 – An abbreviated dialing code that directs non-emergency telephone calls to police, fire and emergency services.

8-1-1 – An abbreviated dialing code that directs callers to Ohio Utilities Underground Protection Service.

9-1-1 – An abbreviated dialing code that directs emergency calls to police, fire and emergency services.

9-1-1 Charge – This charge maintains the lines and databases for 9-1-1 emergency services.

Access Charge – A fee charged subscribers or other telephone companies by a local exchange carrier for the use of its local exchange networks.

Act – Refers to the "Ohio Electric Restructuring Act of 1999" (sometimes called Senate Bill 3).

Aggregation – A practice that allows marketers and local governments to pool the electric or natural gas consumption of multiple customers, or residents as in the case of local governments, in order to purchase the electricity or natural gas at a bulk rate.

Alternating current (AC) – An electrical current in which the direction of the electron flow reverses periodically, usually many times per second. Most U.S. household electrical systems use AC current rated at 120 volts and 60 cycles per second.

Alternative Operator Service – Services provided by a third party, which would normally be provided by the operator. The most common services are alternative methods of paying for a call, such as collect calling, charging the call to a third party or paying by credit card or telephone company calling card.

Apples to Apples Charts – The PUCO’s electric and natural gas offer comparison charts, the only comparisons in the state for which suppliers are required to provide accurate and up-to-date information about their latest offers.

Area Code Overlay – A new area code that is “overlaid” into a pre-existing area code, most often serving the identical geographic area. The benefit of an overlay is that existing customers retain their existing area codes. The “overlay” area code is used for new customers and lines. An overlay requires all customers, including those with telephone numbers in the pre-existing area code, to dial area codes for all calls including local and long distance.

Bandwidth – The capacity of a telecom line to carry signals. The necessary bandwidth is the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information. FCC rules require suppression of the signal outside the band to prevent interference.

Base Rate – Recovers non-fuel related expenses such as capitol costs, personnel, and facilities and equipment. It also includes a component which allows the utility to recover a profit return for its shareholders.

Basic Local Exchange Service – This charge is for basic dial tone service provided over a primary access line of service which is not part of a bundle or package of services. Regulated telephone companies are only required to tariff Basic Local Exchange Service over the primary access line for small business customers with three lines or less.

Biofuels (biomass fuels) – Biomass converted directly to energy or converted to liquid or gaseous fuels, such as methane and hydrogen.

Biomass – Any organic matter available on a renewable basis including agricultural crops, waste residues, wood, wood wastes and residues, animal wastes, municipal wastes and aquatic plants.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) – The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound (one pint) of water one degree Fahrenheit. One (1) watt-hour equals 3.314 BTUs.

Broadband – A term that refers to the ability to transmit data at high rates of speed (45Mb/s and above). Usually associated with the transmission of data, multimedia audio and video (such as high-speed Internet access), it may also be part of private networks.

Broker – One who assumes the contractual and legal responsibility for the sale and/or arrangement for the supply of retail electric generation service to a retail customer without taking title to the power supplied.

Budget Billing – Program offered by Ohio's regulated electric and natural gas distribution companies that spreads out the cost of energy used during high-demand times of the year.

Bulk power system – The electrical generation resources, transmission lines, and interconnections with neighboring systems, and associated equipment, generally operated at voltages of 100 kilovolts (kv) or above.

Bulk power – Massive or bulk quantities of electric current transferred on the high voltage transmission lines of an electric power system to destinations that could be hundreds of miles away. In the U.S., bulk power transactions for the purpose of wholesale interstate commerce are under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Capacity – The capability to generate electrical power, measured in megawatts (MW) or kilowatts (kW).

Ccf – A unit equal to one hundred cubic feet, usually used to measure natural gas usage.

Charge – A characteristic of matter responsible for all electric phenomena, particularly the force of the electromagnetic interaction occurring between two forms of matter that are considered either positive or negative; a measurement of this characteristic.

Circuit – A closed path followed or capable of being followed by an electric current. When a circuit is open, the flow of electric current is broken.

Cogeneration or Combined Heat and Power – Production of electricity and usable heat or steam from a single facility.

Common Carrier – In the telecommunications arena, the term used to describe a telephone company.

Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) – A local telephone company that competes with the incumbent local exchange carrier for the local telephone customers.

Competitive Retail Electric Service (CRES) Provider – A retail electric service provider that is certified by the PUCO and competes for your business by offering alternative competitive prices, renewable energy options or other services and incentives.

Competitive Retail Electric Service Standards – PUCO rules that provide consumer protections pertaining to issues including quality of electricity, slamming, contract information and meter readings.

Competitive Retail Natural Gas Service (CRNGS) Provider – A retail natural gas service provider that is certified by the PUCO and competes for your business by offering alternative competitive prices, renewable energy options or other services and incentives.

Cramming – The illegal practice of adding charges to a telephone bill for services that a customer did not order.

Crossbucks – The standard “X” signage seen at highway-rail grade crossings across Ohio.

Customer Charge – A charge on your electric or gas bill to pay for costs associated with system equipment and maintenance.

Customer Choice – The opportunity for a retail electric or natural gas customer to choose who supplies their electric or natural gas.

Customer – Any person that is an end user of electricity or natural gas and is connected to any part of the delivery system within a local electric or natural gas utility service territory within this state.

Decoupling – A rate-making formula designed to encourage natural gas distribution companies to promote conservation by unlinking revenues from volumes of natural gas delivered.

Demand – The amount of electricity drawn from an electric power system at a given instant in time, generally measured in MW or kW.

Demand-side management – The use of processes and equipment to reduce the use of electricity or to shift use away from periods of high electrical demand.

Deregulation – Removal or relaxation of regulations or controls governing business or service operations like utilities.

Dial Around – Long distance services that require consumers to dial a long-distance provider’s access code (or "10-10" number) before dialing a long-distance number to bypass or "dial around" the consumer’s chosen long-distance carrier in order to get a better rate.

Distributed generation (DG) – A general term for all or part of the customer’s distributed electrical generator(s) or inverter(s) together with all protective, safety and associated equipment necessary to produce electric power at the customer’s facility. The generator itself can be any type of electrical generator or static inverter. A distributed generator is one kind of distributive resource.

Distribution Company: See local utility.

Distribution Service Charge – The charge you pay for the cost of moving and delivering electricity to your business.

Distribution system – The poles, wires and transformers used to deliver electric energy from a power company to the customer.

Distribution – The delivery of electricity to homes and businesses over the local poles and wires, transformers, substations and other equipment. This function remains regulated by the PUCO.

Disturbance – An unplanned event that produces an abnormal system condition on the EPS, as in the sudden failure of generation or interruption of load.

Electric current – A flow of electrons through a wire or other conductor.

Electric distribution utility (EDU) – an investor-owned electric utility that owns and operates a distribution wires system and supplies at least retail electric distribution service.

Electric energy – The flow of charged particles (electrons).

Electric Security Plan (ESP) – Filed by electric companies after the passage of Senate Bill 221, sets a plan for the supply and pricing of electric generation.

Electricity – Electric current or power that results from the movement of electrons in a conductor from a negatively charged point to a positively charged point.

Electric-Related Service – A service that is directly related to the consumption of electricity by an end user. This may include, but is not limited to, the installation of demand-side management measures at the end user’s premises; the maintenance, repair or replacement of appliances, lighting, motors or other energy-consuming devices at the end user’s premises; and the provision of energy consumption measurement and billing services.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) – A federal law signed in 2005. The Act was intended to establish a comprehensive, long-range energy policy. It provides incentives for traditional energy production as well as newer, more efficient energy technologies and conservation.

Energy storage – A device capable of absorbing voltage for future use, for example, a battery.

Expected Gas Cost – A component of the Gas Cost Recovery (GCR) rate, this is the price the local utility expects to pay for natural gas in the upcoming GCR period.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – An independent U.S. government agency that regulates interstate and international communications concerning telephone, cellular phone, television and cable, satellite, radio, and the Internet.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – A federal agency responsible for the regulation of electric and gas utility installations and wholesale services used in interstate commerce.

Federal Excise Tax – This three-percent tax is mandated by the federal government and imposed on all local calls. The federal excise tax is no longer imposed on long distance calls and wireless service.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – A separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation whose mission it is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving motor carriers.

Federal Subscriber Line Charge – A charge mandated by the Federal Communications Commission that helps cover the fixed cost of the local phone network, including the lines and equipment from the central office to the customer. This is a per-line charge and the FCC caps the maximum price a company may charge. Customers with multiple lines may pay a higher subscriber line charge.

Fixed Delivery Charge – Charge billed each month to recover a portion of the ongoing fixed costs of providing service to a consumer’s home or business. See Customer Charge.

Fixed Price –  An all-inclusive per kWh price that will remain the same for at least three billing cycles or the term of the contract, whichever is longer.

Flashing lights and roadway gates – Active warning devices found at many highway-rail grade crossings across Ohio.

Flicker – Fluctuating or unstable voltage on the EPS that adversely affects or is objectionable to neighboring customers on the EPS, such that light levels are irritating to people or the occurrence of flicker causes equipment to operate improperly.

Fossil fuel – Materials that were formed in the ground millions of years ago from plant and animal remains such as coal, oil or natural gas, now used to produce heat or power; also called conventional fuels.

Fuel cell – A device that changes the chemical energy of fuels directly into electricity.

Gas Cost Recovery (GCR) Rate – A mechanism that provides a dollar-for-dollar recovery of costs incurred by a local utility to purchase and deliver natural gas to its system. The GCR rate enables the local utility to correct any over or under collections of natural gas during the previous period.

Generation Charge – The charge for producing electricity. If you purchase electricity from a supplier, your generation charge will depend on the contract between you and your supplier.

Generation Service Charge – A charge you pay to cover the costs associated with producing the electricity.

Generation – The actual production of electricity in a power plant.

Generator – A device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Green Power – Energy that can be extracted, generated and/or consumed without any significant negative impact to the environment. Production of green power typically comes from "renewable" or environmentally friendly sources, such as hydro, wind and solar.

Grid – An interconnected system of electric cables and power stations that distributes electricity over a large area.

Gross receipts tax – When natural gas is purchased from a local utility, it is not subject to Ohio sales or use tax. The local utility must pay a gross receipts tax, which is included in the GCR rate charged for the natural gas based on the volume of gas consumed.

Hazardous materials training and planning grants – Grants awarded by the PUCO to political subdivisions, educational institutions and other state agencies for the training of public safety and emergency services personnel in the proper techniques for the management of hazardous materials spills and releases that occur during transportation.

Highway route controlled shipment – Some shipments of radioactive waste with a high radioactivity level (e.g., spent nuclear fuel) are identified as highway route controlled quantity (HRCQ) shipments. Carriers of HRCQ shipments are required to use “preferred routing” which restricts transport to certain interstate highways and alternative routes.

Highway-rail grade crossing – The general area where a highway and a railroad cross at the same level.  Also known as a “Highway-Rail Intersection” and “Railroad Crossing.”

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) – A federally funded assistance program available to help low-income Ohioans pay their home heating bill.  HEAP makes a one time payment to regulated utilities each heating season.

Hours of service rules – Rules that govern how long the driver of a commercial motor vehicle is allowed to operate their vehicle in a given period of time.

Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) – The “traditional” local telephone company in a geographic region.

Independent Service Operator (ISO) – An independent entity that controls and monitors a grid, coordinating the generation and transmission of electricity to ensure a reliable power supply to consumers.

Introductory Price – For new customers, an all-inclusive per kWh price that will remain the same for a limited period of time between one and three billing cycles followed by a different fixed or variable per kWh price that will be in effect for the remaining billing cycles of the contract term, consistent with terms and conditions in the supplier's 'disclosure statement.'

Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU) – Public utilities owned by shareholders. Investor-owned utilities serve about three-quarters of all electricity customers.

Kilovolt (kv) – 1,000 volts. The amount of electric force carried through a high voltage transmission is measured in kilovolts.

Kilowatt (kW) – The basic unit of electric demand, equal to 1,000 watts; for example, the average household demand is 10 – 20 kilowatts.

Kilowatt hour (kWh) – A unit of energy of work equal to 1,000 watthours. The basic measure of electric energy generated for use. For example, a 100-watt light bulb burning for 10 hours uses one kilowatthour of energy.

Lifeline Assistance Program – Provides income eligible customers a discount on telephone connection fees and monthly telephone bills.

Line – A carrier of electricity on an electric power system.

Load factor – The ratio of average demand to peak demand; a measure of efficiency that indicates whether a system’s electric use over a period of time is reasonably stable, or if it has extreme peaks and valleys.

Load Profile – Customer usage pattern.

Load – The amount of electric power drawn at a specific time from an electric power system, or the total power drawn from the system.

Local Number Portability (LNP) – A procedure that allows customers to keep their telephone number when they switch local telephone companies.

Local Number Portability Charge – This charge allows telephone companies to recover certain costs for providing residential and business customers the ability to keep their existing telephone numbers when they switch from one local telephone service provider to another. This is a fixed monthly charge, not a tax.

Local Utility – The company that delivers your electricity or natural gas to your home or business.

Market Price – The price of electricity or natural gas in a particular market.

Market Rate Option (MRO) – Senate Bill 221 allowed electric companies the option to submit a plan to the PUCO for approval to move to a market based rate structure for electric generation.

Market-Based Rates – Electricity or natural gas rates established in an unregulated, competitive market.

Marketer – A certified electric or natural gas supplier that takes title to electricity or natural gas for the sale to retail end-use customers.

Mcf – One thousand cubic feet, a unit used to measure natural gas usage.

Megawatt (MW) – A unit of energy equal to 1,000 kilowatts or 1 million watts.

Megawatthour (MWH) – A unit of energy of work equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours or 1 million watthours.

Meter – A device used to measure, display and record the amount of power used by a customer.

Monthly Fee – A fixed monthly fee that a supplier may include in the terms and conditions of their contract that is in addition to a rate based on usage.

Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program – Provides federal grants to states to enforce federal and compatible state motor carrier safety and hazardous materials regulations.

Municipal Electric Utility (Muni) – A utility owned and operated by a city or town and usually regulated by a local governing body. Ohio law leaves municipal utilities an option as to whether to participate in competitive retail services.

National “Do-Not-Call” Registry – A list maintained by the FCC that allows consumers to have their telephone number removed from databases used by telemarketers.

Natural Gas Choice – A program that allows consumers to choose the company that supplies their natural gas. Under natural gas choice, the local natural gas utility continues to deliver the gas to customers.

Non-Utility Generator (NUG) or Independent Power Producer – A company that generates power for sale but is exempt from traditional utility regulation.

North American Electric Reliability Council – An independent organization that works to ensure that the bulk electric system in North America is reliable, adequate and secure.

NYMEX – The New York Mercantile Exchange, a public market where natural gas and other commodities are sold and traded.

Off-peak – A period of low system demand on the electric power system.

Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) – (800) 362-2764.  Also known as “call-before-you-dig”, OUPS coordinates with utilities to mark underground lines before digging.

Open Access – Access to the grid on comparable terms and conditions.

Outage – A temporary suspension or interruption of operation, especially of electric power, occurring when a power plant, transmission or distribution line or other facility on the electric power system is not operating.

Peak load – The amount of power drawn from an electric power system at the time of highest demand, measured in kilowatts or megawatts.

Peaking – The condition where a generating unit is operating to provide the maximum power it is capable of producing. A generating unit that is capable of the efficient production of peaking power is characterized as a “peaking unit.”

Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus) – An assistance program that allows income eligible customers of regulated electric and natural gas utilities to pay a certain percentage of their gross monthly income towards their utility bills.

Phase I Service – provides the cellular tower information and caller’s contact number to an emergency services dispatcher.

Phase II Service – displays both the Phase I information and the latitude/longitude of the caller’s location.

Photovoltaic – Capable of producing voltage when exposed to radiant energy, especially light.

Power quality – Voltage deviations, harmonic distortions, and power interruptions experienced by a Customer or the EPS that can damage or adversely affect operations of the customer’s equipment or equipment on the EPS.

Prescribed Interexchange Charge (PICC) – The charge the local exchange company assesses the long distance company when a consumer picks it as his or her long distance carrier.

Price to Compare – The price for an electric supplier to beat in order for you to save money. It will be shown on residential customer’s electric utility bill. You can use this amount to compare with prices offered by suppliers.

Provider of Last Resort – Provider of Last Resort (POLR) serves as the "back-up" provider of service to the competitive suppliers.

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) – The traditional, centrally-switched telephone network.

Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA) – Federal legislation that regulates the corporate structure and financial operations of certain utility holding companies.

Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) – A federal statute that intended to expand the use of cogeneration and renewable energy sources.

PUCO Consumer Call Center – (800) 686-PUCO (7826). The PUCO consumer call center provides Ohioans with a toll-free resource where they can have their utility concerns addressed.

Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) – An organization that is responsible for moving electricity over large interstate areas. An RTO coordinates, controls and monitors an electricity transmission grid that is larger with much higher voltages than the typical power company's distribution grid.

Reliability – The delivery of uninterrupted electricity or natural gas to consumers on demand.

Renewable Content – The percentage of the contracted generation supply that is provided by a renewable energy source.

Renewable Energy – Electricity or natural gas that is made from environmentally friendly fuel resources, such as wind, water, biomass, biogas, waste heat or solar. Sometimes referred to as "green" energy.

Retail Choice – The ability of retail customers to shop for electric generation or natural gas supply service, and to choose the supplier that will provide their electricity or natural gas.

Riser – Connects an above ground natural gas meter to the service line. The riser is installed by a builder or subcontractor when the home or building is constructed. Inside basement meters do not have risers.

Roadcheck– An international transportation safety and security event held annually across North America.

Rural Electric Cooperative – A not-for-profit electric company that has been financed under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. Ohio has 24 rural electric cooperatives. Ohio law leaves cooperatives an option as to whether to participate in competitive retail electric services.

Slamming – Switching electric or natural gas service to another supplier without a customer’s approval. This practice is illegal and penalties are enforced by the PUCO.

Solar power – Energy from the sun’s radiance converted into heat or electricity.

Standard Choice Offer (SCO) – Each year, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Dominion East Ohio and Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio conduct auctions to secure natural gas supplies for customers who do not participate in the retail choice program. The auction establishes a SCO rate for choice-eligible customers. The SCO rate is based on the NYMEX month-end settlement price for natural gas, plus a retail price adjustment determined in the auctions. The retail price adjustment reflects the winning bidders’ price to deliver natural gas from the production area to the utility’s service area.

Standard Service Offer: The electric generation service a customer will receive from their local electric utility if they do not choose an electric supplier.

Standard – An acknowledged measure of comparison for value, a level of requirement, excellence or attainment.

State and Local Municipal Tax – A charge placed by state, local, and municipal governments on goods and services.

State Subscriber Line Charge – A charge that helps maintain the local phone network. It may also appear as “Intrastate Access Fee” or “Access Recovery Charge.” Not all local companies have this charge on the bill.

Subscriber Line Charge (SLC) – A monthly fee paid by telephone subscribers that is used to compensate the local telephone company for part of the cost of installation and maintenance of the telephone wire, poles and other facilities that link your home to the telephone network. These wires, poles and other facilities are referred to as the "local loop." The SLC is one component of access charges.

Substation – A place on an electric power system that contains transformers to lower the voltage from a transmission level to a primary distribution system level.        

Supplier – The company that you can choose to provide the generation portion of your electricity or the supply portion of your natural gas service.

Supply Charge – The price of electricity or natural gas offered by a supplier.

Surge – A sudden, transient increase in the flow of electricity.

Telecom Relay Service (TRS) – allows individuals with a hearing or speech disability to use the telephone. TRS users dial the nationwide 7-1-1 dialing code to connect to a TRS operator who stays on the line to relay conversations. Calls can be placed from a standard telephone, a text telephone (TTY) or a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD). TRS is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the number of calls placed or call length.

Terms and Conditions – A contract between a competitive retail electric service provider or competitive retail natural gas service provider and a customer that outlines fees, length of service and other important information.

Transmission Charge – Charge for transporting electricity from the generation plant to the local electric utility.

Transmission Service Charge – The charge you pay to the electric company to move high voltage electricity from the generation facility to the distribution facility.

Transmission – The transporting of high-voltage electricity from generation at a power plant to local electric utilities.

Transportation Rate Charge – This charge is comprised of a base rate, Percentage of Income Payment Plan rider, uncollectible expense rider, competitive retail natural gas service surcredit rider, and a mitigation rider that includes unrecovered gas costs and an operational balancing capacity cost.

Transportation Rate Charge (Cincinnati Gas & Electric) – This charge, which can fluctuate quarterly, is comprised of a gas usage charge and gas cost charges.

Transportation Rate Charge (Columbia Gas of Ohio) – The transportation rate charge is comprised of a base rate, Percentage of Income Payment Plan rider, temporary base rate revenue rider, excise tax rider, uncollectible expense rider, competitive retail natural gas service surcredit rider, and GCR transition rider.

Transportation Rate Charge (Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio) – This charge, which can fluctuate quarterly, is comprised of a base rate, transportation program cost, mitigation rider, Percentage of Income Payment Plan rider, excise tax rider, uncollectible expense rider, GCR transition rider, and gross receipts excise tax.

Transportation Cost – Cost related to the actual transportation of natural gas through the natural gas transmission pipeline to the LDC.

TTY – A type of machine that allows people with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the phone using a keyboard and a viewing screen. It is sometimes called a TDD.

Unbundled Service – The separation of generation, transmission, distribution and other ancillary services.

Universal Service Fund (USF)/Universal Connectivity Fee – This federal fee helps make phone service affordable and available to all Americans, including consumers with low incomes those living in areas where the cost of telephone service is high, and organizations such as school, libraries, and rural health care providers.

Unrecovered Gas Costs – The unrecovered gas costs are used to reimburse or charge customers for any over or under recovery of previous year’s gas cost charges. Although all customers are assessed unrecovered gas costs, following 12 month’s participation as a Choice customer, the charge is eliminated from the customer bills. Because the unrecovered gas costs only impact the transportation charges of Choice customers of less than 12 month’s participation, the total rate of the Apples to Apples chart is calculated with these customers in mind.

Usage History – The portion of your bill that shows a 13-month comparison of natural gas usage.

Variable Price – An all-inclusive per kWh price that can change, by the hour, day, month, etc., according to the terms and conditions in the supplier's disclosure statement.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – The use of the Internet Protocol to transmit and switch voice messages which have been converted to data. VoIP may include the use of the Internet, private networks, and/or the Public Switched Telephone Network to carry or complete calls.

Voltage – Electromotive force or potential difference that pushes electricity through a wire, usually expressed in volts. Under IEEE 1547, the Distributed Resource must be able to cease to produce voltage within required clearing times set by IEEE for the capacity (size) of the specific Distributed Resource installation.

Watt – The electrical unit of power. The rate of energy transfer equivalent to 1 ampere flowing under a pressure of 1 volt at unity power factor.

Wattage – An amount of power, especially electric power, expressed in watts or kilowatts.

Wholesale Customers – Entities that purchase electricity or natural gas in bulk for resale to end-use customers. Examples include municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives.

Winter Reconnect Order – A PUCO decision that ensures that Ohioans who have had their natural gas or electric service disconnected, or face potential disconnection, can keep their heat on during the winter heating season.

Wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 Service – Enables local emergency services to identify and locate wireless callers.  Wireless customers throughout Ohio pay a monthly 28 cent surcharge per wireless line to fund enhanced wireless 9-1-1 capabilities.