When do poles need replacement?
Throughout the city of Seattle and the utility’s suburban franchise cities, Seattle City Light has a network of approximately 90,000 utility poles. These utility poles carry power lines as well as communication lines for a variety of companies. Phone, broadband, and fire department signals are some of the services carried on these communication lines. The services carried on the poles vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and street to street.
Occasionally, utility pole replacements are necessitated by a variety of reasons:
- Infrastructure upgrades to add space for renters (who rent and occupy space on the pole)
- Structural instability from old age, weather, wildlife, and even vehicle-pole collisions
When it is determined that a new pole is required, the new pole is placed in a location adjacent to the original pole.
Double Pole Removal Process
After all attachments on the original pole are transferred to the new pole, the original pole can be removed. The owners of the pole are responsible for removing the pole. In most cases, poles are jointly owned by Seattle City Light and CenturyLink. In many instances, Seattle City Light will place the new pole and CenturyLink will remove the old pole.
Seattle City Light has established a dedicated team to coordinate the removal of double poles. These staff members are systematically working their way through the Seattle City Light service territory. When staff are in the field, they verify the existing condition of the pole. This includes researching issues that may be holding up the removal of a pole and communicating field status with the renters and co-owners of these poles to keep the process moving forward. They also track all status updates and remaining steps required to complete the process.
Once all poles and attachments have been verified, our team sends out an electronic notification to each entity on the utility pole still required to perform an action. This can vary from one non-Seattle City Light attachment per pole, to upwards of ten different renters with services attached on the utility poles. Poles with multiple renters attached to them take longer to complete. By identifying the correct alignment with their proper ownership, the time for removal is decreased. Upon completion of one renter, ownership of action is assigned to the next renter in line. Renters and co-owners cannot transfer their equipment ahead of another renter who is next in line to transfer their equipment to the new pole. This is why we strive to identify the proper position of wire and equipment on the utility pole. City Light is committed to continually refine processes to ensure pole removals are completed as soon as possible.
Please note that utility poles that have been removed are not available for purchase. They are disposed of according to the regulatory standards for disposal.