Pocahontas County Broadband Project Going “Full Throttle” with Pole Connections
During a short meeting of the Pocahontas County Broadband Council on October 12th, Mike Holstine, who hosted the meeting in the absence of Sarah Riley, announced that he has made contact with several employees of First Energy who have granted him access to First Energy’s Spatially-enabled Permitting and Notification System (SPANS System). According to information on the First Energy web site, www.firstenergy.com, the SPANS system is an electronic web-based system of communicating between pole attachers and pole owners. Basically, that means using the SPANS System will help speed up and facilitate the county’s ARC Broadband Project to install broadband fiber on the Mon Power Poles they need to use to complete the project. When completed, the 2.5 million dollars ARC Broadband Project will provide broadband service to an area North and East of Marlinton. Holstine said he has shared that SPANS access with Bryan Tew and Cory Nipper of Thompson and Litton, an engineering company working with the Broadband Council and CityNet to build the ARC Broadband Project.
Nipper told the council that now with SPANS they are ready to go “full throttle” with pole attachments. He said they will enter a pole into the SPANS system and pay a $160.00 engineering fee and a $35.00 inspection fee per pole to First Energy. Then, they will receive either an approval or they will receive a rejection of their pole attachment request from First Energy. Rejections would be because First Energy’s engineers and/or inspectors determined that the pole cannot handle the additional fiber connection. Nipper said that if a pole is rejected as being unable to handle the fiber because it was already in poor shape, Thompson and Litton will fight that because we should not responsible to replace a decrepit pole that already needed to be replaced since we did not cause that problem.
If the engineering report and inspection report indicates the pole is able to handle the fiber attachment, and that there is enough room on the pole that the fiber can be installed at least 40 inches below any electrical lines, and 12 inches away from any other communication lines, then First Energy will implement their “Make Ready” program. That program means First Energy will do whatever is necessary to prepare the pole for our project installers to place the fiber optic line on it. Nipper believes this could take up to 120 days before the pole will be ready to have the project fiber attached.