Double Poles -- Legislation

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Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby dougsears on Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:38 am

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.
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby Nacca on Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:15 pm

Doug - I'm just curious what you are looking to get out of this. Are you hoping to have these poles removed or are you using this to generate revenue for the town? I'm thinking that if this passes, the companies involved will just opt to pay the $1000 fine rather than incur the expense of removing and disposing the poles. Is the $1000 fine a one-time fine per occurence? If the goal is to have these poles removed, then I think this fine would have to be increased significantly to have the desired effect. Otherwise, the net effect will be a $132,000 windfall to the town which will ultimately be passed on to the consumer via rate increases.
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby dougsears on Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:25 pm

Nacca: The double poles are ugly. They make out byways look unkempt. The utility companies already are required to remove them by law. They don't. They would rather let the towns store their unwanted creosote coated poles. This said, the $1,000 fine would give the utilities an incentive to obey existing law. It would also be revenue for the town. Tewksbury, and other communities, are always looking for ways to enhance revenues. Costs will ultimately be passed on to the customers -- unless this is cost deducted from any proposed rate increases -- something that I would like to see the Legislature work into this year's filling of the bills. I am open to all other suggestions as to how address this unsightly problem. Doug

---------------------------

Proposed Law: H - 3060 -- AN ACT RELATIVE TO ELECTRIC STREET POLES -- Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

Section 34B of chapter 164 of the General Laws as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition is hereby amended by inserting after the word “pole”, in line 5, the following words:
provided further, that a city or town may enforce this section by the enactment of a local ordinance or bylaw prohibiting double poles beyond the ninety days authorized by this section, violation of which may be punishable by a fine not to exceed a maximum of $1,000 per occurrence.


___________________________

Current Law: GL c. 164, sec. 34B:

Section 34B. A distribution company or a telephone company engaging in the removal of an existing pole and the installation of a new pole in place thereof shall complete the transfer of wires, all repairs, and the removal of the existing pole from the site within 90 days from the date of installation of the new pole; provided, however, that for any approved commercial or industrial construction project, the completion of which is expected to take longer than one year, said company shall be required to remove such pole within six months from the date of installation of the new pole. The owner of such pole shall notify all other users of the starting date of such removal and installation work at least 48 hours prior to the commencement of such work, and said owner shall require all other users to remove their wiring and other attachments from the poles in a timely manner.
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby Nacca on Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:37 pm

Thanks Doug. Just two comments.

- when I saw the amount of the fine ($1000) I asumed this was an old law. I was surprised to see that it was enacted in 2006. The amount of the fine should have been higher to give this legislation some teeth.

- I absolutely agree with you that this legislation should stipulate that these fines be deducted from any proposed rate increases. That should definitely be added to the legislation.


Good luck.
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby bferrari on Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:38 pm

I find it even more maddening that there is an existing law on the books, yet nothing is done to enforce it. Whose responsibility is it to enforce the law in this case?
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby Astle on Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:53 pm

Tewksbury will have to hire the "Pole Police" to enforce this. However, with salary, benefits and don't forget the pension, the cost will far exceed the revenue.
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby moretpani on Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:45 am

How do I apply for this job? :D
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby ELLE2 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:04 am

Astle wrote:Tewksbury will have to hire the "Pole Police" to enforce this. However, with salary, benefits and don't forget the pension, the cost will far exceed the revenue.


That's a ridiculous statement. How many poles are we talking about? 10? Assign it to somebody. Oh wait. It'll have to be somebody non-union since it won't be in anyone's contract. Ah... municipal employees, gotta love em.
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby dougsears on Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:08 pm

According to a report provided by the Office of the Town Manager, in 2008, there were 132 separate instances of double-poling in Tewksbury.


The Patch
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby ELLE2 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:08 pm

dougsears wrote:
According to a report provided by the Office of the Town Manager, in 2008, there were 132 separate instances of double-poling in Tewksbury.


The Patch


132 * $1000 = $132,000. Seems worth addressing to me. And is it a one time $1000 or is that each year? Still don't see how it's a full time job.
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Re: Double Poles -- Legislation

Postby mayor2003 on Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:40 pm

Must be election time.. Doug is alive!!!!
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