DR 98-160
                 Contoocook Valley Telephone Company
                      Overearnings Investigation
                 Order Approving Procedural Schedule
                       O R D E R   N O.  23,064
                          November 13, 1998
         APPEARANCES: Devine, Millimet & Branch by Frederick J.
Coolbroth, Esq., for Contoocook Valley Telephone Company, et al.; 
William Homeyer for the Office of the Consumer Advocate; and,
Larry S. Eckhaus, Esq., for the Staff of the New Hampshire Public
Utilities Commission.

         On September 22, 1998, the New Hampshire Public
Utilities Commission (Commission) issued an Order of Notice
pursuant to RSA 365:5 and 378:7 opening an investigation into the
level of earnings of Contoocook Valley Telephone Company (CVT). 
The Order of Notice scheduled a prehearing conference for October
26, 1998 to consider motions to intervene, and to establish the
remainder of the procedural schedule. A hearing to address the
issue of temporary rates was scheduled for November 20, 1998,
with testimony on the issue to be filed by November 10, 1998.
         At the duly noticed Prehearing Conference on October
26, 1998, the Office of the Consumer Advocate (OCA) appeared on
behalf of residential customers as a statutorily mandated party. 
In accordance with the Order of Notice, the parties and Staff
stated their initial positions. CVT informed the Commission that
it had just filed a Petition for authority to merge CVT into
Merrimack County Telephone (MCT) with the surviving company to be
called MCT Telecom.  CVT indicated that the merger petition
included requests for temporary and permanent rates and that CVT
hoped to consummate the merger prior to the conclusion of this
         Staff maintained that CVT was in an overearnings
position and that the merger petition, discussion of any merged
rates, and other issues contained therein, should be considered
as a separate proceeding, although both dockets could proceed
along similar time lines. 
         At a Technical Session subsequent to the Prehearing
Conference, the parties and Commission Staff (Staff) agreed upon
the following procedural schedule, although CVT reserved its
right to request a change in the schedule pending the outcome of
the Prehearing Conference in Docket DR 98-189.

     Staff Audit                November 9, 1998 -
                                          January 8, 1999
            Staff & OCA Data Requests     November 13, 1998
            - 1st Set
            Company Data Responses        December 3, 1998
            - 1st Set

            Staff & OCA Data Requests     December 18, 1998
            - 2nd Set
            Company Data Responses        January 8, 1999
            - 2nd Set

            Draft Audit Report            January 15, 1999

            Final Audit Report            January 29, 1999

            Staff & OCA Testimony         February 12, 1999

            All Parties Data Requests     February 19, 1999
            - 1st Set

            Staff & OCA Data Responses    February 26, 1999
            - 1st Set

            All Parties Data Requests     March 5, 1999
            - 2nd Set

            Staff & OCA Data Responses    March 12, 1999
            - 2nd Set

            Settlement Discussions        March 19, 1999
            Company Testimony             March 26, 1999

            Staff & OCA Data Requests     April 9, 1999
            - 3rd Set

            Company Data Responses        April 16, 1999
            - 3rd Set

            Staff & OCA Data Requests     April 23, 1999
            - 4th Set (if needed)

            Company Data Responses        April 30, 1999
            - 4th Set (if needed)

            Settlement Discussions        May 5, 1999

            Stipulation (if any)          May 11, 1999
            Hearing                       May 18, 1999
                 We find the stipulated procedural schedule is
reasonable and just.  We have also opened Docket DR 098-189, as
recommended by Staff, to address the CVT/MCT petition for merger. 
We encourage Staff and the parties to work together to reach an
agreement resolving the issues raised in both proceedings.
                 Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
                 ORDERED, that the procedural schedule stipulated to by
the parties and Staff is adopted to govern our investigation in
this proceeding.
                 By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
Hampshire this thirteenth day of November, 1998.

               Douglas L. Patch     Susan S. Geiger        Nancy Brockway
                   Chairman            Commissioner         Commissioner

Attested by:

Thomas B. Getz
Executive Director and Secretary