SB 891
Allows telecommunications providers and rural electric cooperatives to attach equipment to other utility poles for smart grid or broadband purposes
LR Number:
Last Action:
4/3/2012 - Hearing Conducted S Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee
Journal Page:
Calendar Position:
Effective Date:
August 28, 2012

Current Bill Summary

SB 891 - The act allows telecommunications providers and rural electric cooperatives to enter into written agreements to attach equipment to other telecommunications providers' or rural electric cooperatives' poles for the purpose of deploying electric smart grid or broadband technology. The act does not confer any additional authority or duty to the Public Service Commission to regulate pole attachments.

Under the act, a service provider wishing to attach equipment to another provider's pole must give prior notice to the pole owner and the pole owner has 15 days in which to respond. The 15-day timeframe does not apply when the pole owner is engaged in large-scale emergency repairs or disaster recovery. The pole owner must let the attaching service provider know whether any modifications are necessary to the pole before the attachment can be made, in accordance with applicable safety and reliability codes.

The service provider attaching equipment to another's pole is responsible for any damages caused by the attachment and must pay the reasonable costs of any necessary repairs to ensure the safety and reliability of the pole owner's system is not affected. A pole owner may charge a penalty and retroactive pole fees to anyone who attaches equipment to any of its poles without prior notice to the pole owner. The penalty amount can be set by the parties involved, or in the case of disagreement, the penalty is 25% of the pole rate for up to 12 months.

Pole owners may charge reasonable fees for attaching equipment to their poles. The rates can be agreed upon by the parties involved but must be set on a per-pole basis and should not exceed the reasonable costs to the pole owner. Existing contracts for pole attachments are not affected by the act but after they expire, any new contract must comply with the act's requirements and the new pole rate may not exceed the old pole rate by more than 10% per year except in certain circumstances when the old rate was determined to be too low.

When the parties cannot agree on a pole rate, they may request mediation. If mediation does not resolve the matter, the pole owner sets the rate and the other party may file a petition in circuit court.

The act provides procedures for a pole owner for collecting past-due pole rates that it believes are owed. If a pole owner prevails in a court action to recover past-due rates, it may be awarded past-due rates, interest and penalties, and reasonable attorney fees.

The act provides that for any easement or right-of-way interest acquired by a pole owner before August 28, 2006, for the location of its poles, the pole owner does not have to get permission or otherwise seek approval from the easement holder for any attachments to the pole, unless the easement or contract specifically requires otherwise. The act does not limit a property owner's right to compensation for damages as relating to pole attachments under the act.

The act includes a non-severability clause.

The act is similar to HCS/HB 1361 (2012).