This week Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) established a standardized process to identify and address structurally compromised utility poles with the goal of protecting the safety of both utility workers and the public.
The process applies to “custodians” (Eversource, United Illuminating, Frontier Communications, and Verizon) and entities with attachments on the poles, called pole attachers or pole licensees, and requires them to remove structurally compromised poles and transfer attachments in a timely fashion.
In the new process, pole custodians are required to:
- Comply with the new process after receiving notice either directly from a customer or through PURA regarding a potentially structurally compromised pole;
- Within 48 hours of being notified, an employee or contractor must inspect the potentially compromised pole
- Remove a pole that the pole custodian determines is structurally compromised within 10 days of the initial notification
- Licensees have to remove their attachments and transferred to a new pole within 3 days of a replacement pole being set
- If the pole is deemed not structurally compromised, but subsequently fails during the initial 10 day pole replacement period or under “blue sky” conditions, the the custodian will be subject to financial consequences
According to PURA, in 2021, pole custodians replaced more than 580 poles that were deteriorated, unsafe, or in immediate danger of falling.
PURA has broad statutory powers with respect to approximately 900,000 utility pole structures across Connecticut.
In recent years, PURA initiated several proceedings to address the backlog of existing double poles, to adopt a single-visit transfer process, and modernize and establish a “one-touch-make-ready process” for attachers, which should assist in clearing the backlog of pole attachment requests.
Here in Greenwich, State Rep Steve Meskers said PURA’s ruling should work both to resolve constituent complaints and reduce the overall cost of utility maintenance.
“I am fortunate to work with Marissa Gillett, chair of PURA,” Meskers said. “Marissa brings incredible public service focus to the job. Her advocacy and her regulatory efforts in relation to one-touch-make-ready transfer of utilities on the telephone/utility polls in our State and her decision on double polling which I’ve included here are outstanding work by this public servant.”