TDPUD wins dispute with USA Media
A federal court Judge in Sacramento ruled in favor of the Truckee-Donner Public Utility District last Wednesday, stating USA Media violated the pole attachment agreement between the two organizations by putting fiber-optic cable wires on utility poles without first submitting an application.
A temporary restraining order was issued against USA Media, requiring the cable company to cease its activity on the district’s utility poles until an application has been submitted, reviewed and approved.
The suit was originally filed in Nevada County Superior Court with Judge Andy Holmer on Nov. 21, before the Thanksgiving holiday. USA Media filed a petition to move the case to federal court on the grounds that it was not a local business and the issue was out of jurisdiction in a California court. USA Media is incorporated out of the state of Delaware and has offices headquartered in Reno.
Federal Judge David F. Levi issued the temporary restraining order and asked the two organizations to meet and work on the agreement together. USA Media has started the process of submitting an application to the district by clarifying what information was needed, according to TDPUD staff.
“The court proceeding was quick,” TDPUD General Manager Peter Holzmeister said. “Now we’ll just move on from here. At this point it appears USA Media is complying with the order.”
According to Holzmeister, USA Media was putting up fiber-optic wire to offer customers Internet service through cable.
The current pole attachment agreement indicates that USA Media can use TDPUD poles for cable TV and FM radio service, not Internet service. But Holzmeister said the PUD is willing to change the current agreement.
“We’ve indicated to them that we are willing to modify the pole attachment agreement to allow them (USA Media) to provide Internet. We’re ready to do that.”
Legal action began when PUD officials discovered USA Media was putting up wires on the poles without first submitting an application for project plans.
The district requires an application process for such project to determine that a pole is capable of handling additional wire. Additional cable can weaken the poles, and with winter weather conditions, the district was concerned that the cable could serve as a place for snow and ice to accumulate, thus adding stress to the poles.
Judge Levi did not order USA Media to remove wire they had already put up unless the PUD felt there was a strong, compelling reason to do so. Holzmeister said the district concurred with this and agreed to continue with the application process from this point on.
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