PUD set to file restraining order against USA Media
The Truckee-Donner Public Utility District prepared to file suit against USA Media in the Nevada County Superior Court yesterday in an attempt to halt USA Media’s reported placement of fiber-optic cable on the district’s utility poles.
A 4:30 p.m. court hearing with Judge Andy Holmer was scheduled for yesterday between the two organizations as of presstime Tuesday afternoon.
The PUD has accused USA Media of breaking its pole attachment agreement with the district by putting up wires without submitting an application on its plans for the project.
“We have an agreement with USA Media that they should apply for a permit to attach to our poles,” TDPUD General Manager Peter Holzmeister said. He said that PUD staff saw USA Media out last week applying cable to the district’s poles, but not taking anything down.
According to Holzmeister, the district requires an application process to determine that a pole is capable of handling additional cable or wire.
“The concern of the PUD is that the integrity of its facilities and systems be maintained,” he said. “It really boils downs to protecting the health, safety and welfare of our community.”
With winter approaching, Holzmeister said the district needs to be assured that the electric system does not fail the community.
Not only can additional cable weaken the poles, but it can serve as a place for snow and ice to accumulate and the additional weight can add stress to the poles.
On Friday, Holzmeister authored a letter to USA Media asking the company to stop its activities until it submitted an application.
Although USA Media’s regional manager Roger Terneuzen did not comment on the suit, he said in a statement to TDPUD staff and board members Monday that USA Media’s project involves placing fiber as an overlash to existing pole attachments and that no new pole attachments are planned for the preliminary portions of its project.
“I don’t feel at this time that their concerns are warranted,” Terneuzen said. “I will say that as always, USA Media intends to become completely cooperative.”
TDPUD council Steve Gross said the district is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop USA Media from installing wire without permission.
He said he will also ask the court to instruct USA Media to remove the wire that is already up.
Holzmeister said that the pole attachment agreement with USA Media says USA Media can use TDPUD poles for cable TV and FM radio service, not Internet service.
“We’ve indicated our willingness to modify the agreement,” he said. “I just think we should follow the ground rules.”
Because the court proceeding was to occur after presstime, a followup will be in next week’s paper.
District staff met with the TDPUD board in a special meeting Monday morning. Directors Jim Maass and Bob Jones were present, and Ron Hemig participated via teleconference.
Directors Pat Sutton and Joe Aguera were not in attendance.
Though Maass, Jones and Hemig voted to approve district staff to proceed with litigation, the meeting may not have been properly held.
Sutton contacted district staff on Monday afternoon with concerns that the meeting violated the Brown Act, which requires a teleconference be within 43 miles of the meeting, or district. Hemig was communicating from Salem, Ore.
Holzmeister chose to proceed in court as planned due to the immediateness of the situation and seek approval from the board at the next meeting.
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