Cottonwood Heights homeowner frustrated by delays in replacing dangerous utility pole


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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — If there was something dangerous at your home, you would want to work quickly to get it fixed. But a Cottonwood Heights woman contacted the KSL Investigators when she could not get the power company to fix a dangerous power pole in her backyard.

Make no mistake. Even if it is on your property, the power company is responsible to maintain its equipment — including lines and poles.

The power company admits the pole is a hazard — so why the slow fix?

"The pole is leaning against my fence, and it's rotted at the bottom," Barbara North said of the power pole in her backyard.

North is not just being paranoid. A utility crew told her the pole posed a hazard when they came out to trim back some branches around the power lines.

"Rocky Mountain Power came out and said it has to be replaced. That was in October, and they haven't come back."

North noted that she called the power company eight times since mid-October.

"And each time, they say, 'Oh yes, we'll have someone out there to do it,' and no one comes," she said. "I want the pole replaced so that it's safe to live around here."

Utah Public Service Commission codes clearly spell out that it is up to the utility company to "install, maintain, operate, repair, remove, replace" its poles. In fact, if you have one in your yard, you cannot keep the utility company out, even if you wanted to.

But North does not want to keep Rocky Mountain Power out of her yard — she wants them to come in and do the work.

Barbara North said a Rocky Mountain Power utility crew told her this pole posed a hazard when they came out to trim back some branches around the power lines.
Barbara North said a Rocky Mountain Power utility crew told her this pole posed a hazard when they came out to trim back some branches around the power lines. (Photo: Barbara North)

The KSL Investigators reached out to the power company's spokesman to ask about all this. He did not want to talk about it on camera, but through text messages, he blames the weather.

"So, it appears that the pole was scheduled to be replaced on Wednesday (Dec. 15)," read one of the texts — which was the same day as a major snow storm. "The storm hit, thereby creating an unexpected challenge."

"With all the snow on, you can't see it, but it's rotted out at the bottom," North said.

That storm bumped her down the list by more than a month. The pole now is not scheduled to be replaced until late January. North cannot do much now except to hope it stays up.

"It's a danger to those people and it could be a danger to me," she said.

Rocky Mountain Power's spokesman says that "the pole isn't rotting or failing," but admits that it is "old and needs replacing."

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Matt Gephardt
Matt Gephardt has worked in television news for more than 20 years, and as a reporter since 2010. He is now a consumer investigative reporter for KSL TV. You can find Matt on Twitter at @KSLmatt or email him at matt@ksl.com.

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