Senator James Skoufis (D-Orange County) announced his initiative to encourage local municipalities to hold utility companies to account who fail to remove hazardous and unseemly utility infrastructure. In recent weeks, Skoufis and his team reached out to municipal leaders across his Orange County district to encourage their adoption of a local law that would impose fines on utility companies that fail to remove double poles (sometimes referred to as ‘zombie poles’) and their attachments in a timely manner.
Equipment such as excess power lines and unused poles serve as not only a blight along local roadways, but often pose a danger to residents. Skoufis brought to local leaders’ attention the model law enacted by the Town of Wallkill, Chapter 101-2, which ensures utilities are held accountable for timely removal of these unsightly and unsafe features by levying a per-day fine.
“In pressing our area utilities to account for their own neglect of this infrastructure, we uncovered eye-popping stats,” said Skoufis. “While there are many offenders, Frontier is, by far, the worst, with some of their unused lines remaining in place for over 3,000 days. While utilities provide essential services to our constituents, it is equally essential that they operate in a manner that’s mindful of our communities’ safety, aesthetics, and overall quality of life.”
“Beside the fact that double poles can be unsightly and dangerous, they also pose a safety hazard by making it difficult for utility operators to access and maintain the equipment, increasing the risk of power outages and other issues. The Village of Harriman Board is currently working on an introductory local law to require the prompt removal of double poles.” said Village of Harriman Mayor Lou Medina.
Subsequent to Skoufis’ outreach, the City of Port Jervis, Town of Goshen, Town of Warwick, Village of Harriman, and others have indicated they are exploring a local law on zombie poles.