published Monday, March 4th, 2013

Tennessee's rural electric cooperatives target poll attachment bill

NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s rural electric cooperatives say a cable-television industry backed pole-attachment bill amounts to a multimillion-dollar annual “subsidy” for cable companies that would ultimately be borne by hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans.

“The cable companies want, in essence, a $13 million subsidy that is paid to them by the electric ratepayers of Tennessee,” charged David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, in a news release.

Both rural cooperatives and municipal services such as Chattanooga’s EBP are battling the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association over pole attachment fees. Both sides are pushing their own respective legislation.

The negotiated fees are charged by the state’s public power distributors to cable companies and telephone companies for the right to attach cable to power poles.

The rates cover the cost of installing and maintaining a power pole, the public power distributors say, noting the rate averages $14 a pole per year for rural co-ops and $18 for municipal services.

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