Co-ops urge lawmakers to vote NO on ‘pole tax’

To protect co-op consumer-members, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are urging lawmakers to vote down any attempts to tack broadband costs onto the electric bills of local ratepayers.

Some for-profit telecommunications companies are behind an effort to pass along the “pole attachment” costs of broadband expansion to electric cooperatives. This cost shift would trigger rate increases by the not-for-profit cooperatives. Despite co-ops explaining this net effect of pole attachment charges, telecom companies are pushing forward with this plan anyway.

“Legislators need to hear from you and other local electric ratepayers that these multi-billion dollar for-profit companies who are already receiving hundreds of millions of tax dollars to expand broadband service, should not pad the pockets of their shareholders by adding these extra costs to your power bill,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.

  • FACT: If broadband providers succeed in passing along these unrelated broadband costs to electric bills, all ratepayers will see higher electric bills, not just the ones who might gain broadband service.
  • FACT: For years, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have worked to accommodate the needs of telecommunications providers, allowing access to the cooperative pole network and relieving telecoms from the burden of having to build their own systems.
  • FACT: Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have engaged in good-faith discussions with broadband providers and the Public Service Commission to review and modernize pole attachment regulations with the shared goal of speeding up broadband expansion while preserving the safety and reliability of both the public and line workers.
  • FACT: If an electric utility pole is sufficient to provide electric service, but enhancements to the pole are necessary to accommodate an additional attachment (such as broadband), those “make ready” costs are the obligation of the broadband company, not a local cooperative.

“Broadband companies must not be allowed to hide the cost of doing business in the electric bills of rural Kentuckians,” Perry said. “Co-ops are owned by the people we serve, we are working to protect your interests, and we need your help, so lawmakers understand this issue is important to you.”

Click here to tell your legislator “STOP Hidden Fees by Voting NO on Pole Attachments in Kentucky.”