Utility Pole Installation: Who Pays?
LESLIE: Calling in from New York we’ve got Tammy. You’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
TAMMY: We’re building a home in the Poconos and we’ve been hit with a utility pole bill. And we were just wondering – because it’s pretty high – we were wondering if there’s any way we can recoup it from the community where we live; if we can get money back from the lighting company; or this is just something we have to pay and deal with it.
TOM: Was this utility pole necessary to bring the electricity into your house? In other words, are you the only one that’s benefiting from the pole or is it …?
TAMMY: Oh, all three of them were necessary and not only will be benefit from them but the five or six lots behind us that will eventually build will benefit from it.
TOM: Well, I would imagine, to get the wiring back to those five or six lots, you’re probably going to need additional poles, wouldn’t you think?
TAMMY: No, actually we were told that we would – since we’re the first ones building in that particular area …
TAMMY: … we would have to pay for it and then everyone else can hook up their electricity to those three poles.
TOM: That’s very neighborly of you, Tammy. (Leslie chuckles)
TAMMY: Isn’t it? I hate my neighbors and they haven’t even moved in yet.
TOM: Is this an association that – where you bought this lot? Is it …?
TAMMY: No, it’s in a private – it’s a private community in the Pocono region.
TOM: And you say all the lots are individual?
TOM: Well – and are they owned by the same person?
TOM: They’re owned by different people.
TAMMY: Developers, yeah.
TOM: By different developers?
TOM: Well, it seems to me like this is something that should have been negotiated into the purchase price for the lot.
TOM: The cost of the utilities. I don’t know if there’s a way that you’re going to be able to recoup that. (chuckling) You know, the next – when the people move in behind you, you can always go by and say, “Hi, I’m Tammy and here’s your bill for the utility pole you’re hooked up to.” (Tammy laughs) Probably not the best way to meet people.
LESLIE: No, but what about putting together, you know, a document and perhaps have it written up by an attorney just to be like, “Hey, I’m serious about this”; you know, showing your costs for the utility poles and the fact that they do share the service for the new homes that will be built and then approaching those builders who own those lots and saying, “Listen, you know, we’ve got this”? And you know, I wonder if there’s any way you can block them using it.
TOM: Yeah, the real question is where is the line of demarcation between what’s the utility company’s property and what’s yours. You know, it may be that you’re paying a cost for not really physically buying the pole but just for part of the work to get the pole in. I don’t know. It’s probably a good question for a land use attorney.
TAMMY: Oh, great. I was wondering if I could leave them – you know, the poles to my kids in my will.
TOM: (laughing) That’s right. It’s become part of your property.
TAMMY: Or you know, like when I move can I take them with me?
TOM: Can you take your pole with you. (Laughing)
TAMMY: I just get laughed at by the energy company. They think I’m laughing and I’m like, “I’m not joking.” That’s a lot of money we’re being charged.
TOM: Yeah, how much were they charging you?
TOM: Man. And here’s a question. As the pole ages, does it appreciate?
TAMMY: I don’t – (laughing). Pink is my favorite color. I mean, you know, can we put sparkles on it and – my daughter wants to like decorate it.
TOM: I would contact a land use attorney and get that question answered. I think it’s a great question.
LESLIE: Hey, because every house owns $23.52 according to your numbers. So …
LESLIE: … get it back.
TAMMY: Yeah, that’s exactly – (laughing).
TOM: Tammy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TAMMY: Have a great day.