Sears Endorses Legislation To Force Removal of Double Utility Poles -- Massachusetts Municipal Association pushing bill that would give towns the power to fine utility companies.Tewksbury Patch
, by Corey Starliper http://tewksbury.patch.com/articles/sea ... ?ncid=M255
Double-poling is what happens when a company, like National Grid, sets up a pole at a location which is already in use, and instead of removing the old pole, the company just adds their own. In most cases, the old poles are quite a bit shorter than the newer one, and this presents a problem, said Selectman Doug Sears.
Sears has been pushing the issue since 2005. Every time a utility company appears before the Board of Selectmen asking permission to place a new pole, Sears asks the representative of the company to take a message back to their bosses regarding the double-pole problem.
Sears says that the problem with having one pole shorter than the other is that when the new pole is added, the wires are not transferred to the taller pole. Instead, they remain on the shorter pole and the companies link the two poles together with the wires. This puts a great deal of pressure on the wires, and this can lead to power-outages, specifically in New England storms.
This will be the MMA's second attempt to get the double-pole legislation pased. The previous bill was co-sponsored by state Sen. Susan Tucker, D-Andover. However, no action was taken. As a result, the bill will be refiled in the upcoming legislative session.
Massachusetts General Law already requires the utility companies to remove the old poles but it doesn't give authority to any particular agency or body to enforce the law.
This new legislation would give the Town of Tewksbury, and all Massachusetts municipalities, the authority to fine the owners of these poles $1,000 for every double-pole occurrence, unless the companies go in and remove them. These companies include phone and electric, as well as cable and the Tewksbury Fire Department.
"It's important to encourage these companies to get into action," said Sears."This bill would add a $1,000 fine to each occurrence."
According to a report provided by the Office of the Town Manager, in 2008, there were 132 separate instances of double-poling in Tewksbury.
One of the problems with double-poling, according to Sears, is that most of the old poles are soaked in creosote. Creosote poles are harmful for the environment, and part of the reason that these companies are simply adding new poles without removing the older creosote poles is because the companies responsible have no way to safely dispose of them, said Sears.
It would seem companies would be anxious to remove the old poles before adding new ones or bear the weight of a fine. But there are two complications with the proposed legislation.
According to the report from the Town Manager, one of the concerns voiced by utility companies is in regard to paying workers overtime to remove the old poles.
According to Sears, there is also some confusion about who actually owns which poles.
"Some of these poles were put in years ago," he said, noting that records have a tendency to get lost over time.
Sears said that another problem is that the companies putting in the new poles may not be the ones responsible for having put in the older ones.
There are 14 instances of double-poling on South Street, 11 on East Street, including one at the corner of East and Maple, and 10 instances of double-poling on Main Street, or Route 38.