• Local Publicly Owned Electric Utilities Must Now Allow Communications Providers to Use Their Utility Poles, Structures
  • October 14, 2011 | Author: Gail A. Karish
  • Law Firm: Best Best & Krieger LLP - Washington Office
  • Governor Brown recently signed AB 1027 into law, severely limiting local discretion as to whether and under what terms local publicly owned electric utilities may allow communications providers to use the utility poles, support structures, ducts and conduits.

    Under AB 1027 (Buchanan) signed by the Governor this past weekend, local publicly owned electric utilities must make space and capacity on their facilities available to cable TV, video, and telephone providers who desire to attach their communications facilities to them. The new law is effective January 1, 2012 and does not apply to contracts entered into prior to that date.

    This is an important new law that will have potentially significant financial impacts on local publicly owned electric utilities by limiting their revenues and increasing their administrative costs. The law covers the following areas, among others:

    • Setting specific time limits for local action on requests for use and for providing estimates of make-ready costs.
    • Limiting the reasons a local publicly owned utility can deny a request for use.
    • Dictating the formula for calculating use fees, which may not exceed actual costs.
    • Limiting application fees to costs.
    • Requiring the local governing body to follow certain procedures, including public notice and hearing before adopting or increasing use fees or changing terms of conditions of access.
    • Giving communications providers and others various rights, including the right to protest the adoption of the fees, to bring legal action challenging the fees, and to request an audit to determine whether a fee complies with the new statute.