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Public Service Commission


01/27/2006 Contact: 850-413-6482

Commission to Consider Mandating Inspections for Electric, Phone Company Poles

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) will consider ordering 10-year inspection cycles for all wooden poles that carry investor-owned electric lines at its February 7, 2006 meeting.

The vulnerability of wooden utility poles to damage or failure during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons has been cited as a possible cause of extensive and protracted power outages.

“We have a responsibility to look for short-term and long-term answers that will reduce the impacts of storms on Florida’s ratepayers,” Commission Chairman Lisa Polak Edgar said.  “In light of the unprecedented damage of the last two years, we will be pursuing solutions and considering actions to protect our consumers.”

A staff recommendation filed Friday recommends the state’s investor-owned electric utilities and local telephone companies inspect 10 percent of their wooden utility poles annually using specified techniques and report the findings to the Commission.  Staff recommendations may be accepted, rejected or modified by the Commissioners.

The recommendation notes that federal guidelines for rural electric cooperatives suggest 10-year inspection cycles for wooden poles in most states and eight-year cycles in Florida.

While acknowledging a comprehensive inspection program may involve some added costs for utilities, staff concludes, “An effective pole inspection program can be expected to reduce future storm damage totals.”

A copy of the recommendation is available on the Commission’s website at