SB 6 - Where a rural electric cooperative allows attachments on its utility poles, this act allows any telecommunications provider or broadband service provider to be able to place attachments on such poles for the purpose of deploying electric smart grid or broadband technology. No attachment shall be made before an agreement is made between the parties. The act does not confer any additional authority or duty to the Public Service Commission to regulate pole attachments. Certain provisions of the act also apply to cable television providers and other transmitters of information not capable of providing broadband service except the laws in effect as of August 28, 2012, shall continue to govern with regard to easements with these entities.
Under the act, a service provider wishing to attach equipment to a rural electric cooperative's pole must give prior notice to the pole owner and the pole owner has 15 business days in which to respond. The 15-day time frame does not apply when the pole owner is engaged in large-scale emergency repairs or disaster recovery and response during the 15 days is not possible. 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 rural electric cooperative may charge a penalty and retroactive pole attachment fees to anyone who attaches unauthorized equipment to any of its poles.
Pole owners may charge reasonable fees for attaching equipment to their poles. The fee 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 attachment fee may not exceed the old pole attachment fee by more than 10% per year except in certain circumstances when the old fee was determined to be too low.
When the parties cannot agree on a pole attachment fee or any other provision in a written agreement, they may request mediation. If mediation does not resolve the matter, the rural electric cooperative pole owner makes the decision and the other party may file a petition in circuit court if it does not agree with the cooperative's decision. If the court finds the decision of the rural electric cooperative to be reasonable, it shall approve the decision.
The act provides procedures for a pole owner for collecting past-due pole attachment fees that it believes are owed. If a pole owner prevails in a court action to recover past-due fees, it may be awarded past-due attachment fees, 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. This provision does not apply when the attaching entity is a cable service provider.
Property owners may seek reasonable compensation for any decrease in the use or value of their property caused by pole attachments. Additionally, property owners may request from a rural electric cooperative pole owner a one-time compensation payment of $500 per mile for the distance the attached line crosses their land. Any such payment must be at least $100 per parcel and is only applicable in certain circumstances as specified in the act.
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 does not apply to property owned or operated by a railroad regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration.
The act is similar to HB 1361 (2012) and SB 891 (2012), and is similar to provisions contained in the perfected SS/SCS/SB 241 (2012) and the truly agreed to and finally passed SS/SCS/HCS/HB 345 (2013).