Rep. Fernandes Files Bill to Protect Homeowners with Private Utility Lines and Poles

Trying to avoid thousands in bills when lines break...
State Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth)

Representative Dylan Fernandes continues to push for ratepayer protection with new legislation that aims to compensate and educate homeowners on private utility lines.

Fernandes’s bill, An act relative to consumer protection and private utility poles,

  • mandates realtors disclose private utility information during home sales,
  • ensures that utility companies notify ratepayers whether their poles are privately owned on their utility bill,
  • offers ratepayers a vehicle to compel utility companies to take over maintenance of private poles through the Department of Public Utilities,
  • provides a mechanism for compensating ratepayers for the maintenance of their private lines or poles.

In August, Fernandes organized a public meeting for homeowners on private utility lines with representatives from Eversource and the Department of Public Utilities. Following the meeting, some homeowners on island began to have their private lines taken over by Eversource.

“When power lines break, we have the reasonable expectation that the utility company will fix them.” said Fernandes. “However, many homeowners in our district and across Massachusetts were never told that their lines and poles are private and, that when they break, they will be stuck with a bill often in the tens of thousands of dollars. The lack of consumer protection for homeowners is unacceptable and we have proposed a commonsense solution to address it.”

Vineyard resident, Dennis Golden, who first brought this issue to the attention of Representative Fernandes also weighed in on the legislation. “Many homeowners living in Massachusetts are unaware that the power lines delivering their electricity are privately owned, their responsibility, rather than owned and maintained by Eversource. I, and a collective of Martha’s Vineyard homeowners support the well thought out legislation proposed by Dylan Fernandes to address this problem across the Commonwealth.”

With the rise of increasingly powerful storms brought on by climate change, utility lines and poles are even more vulnerable to breaking which could leave homeowners in the dark if they are unable to pay the exorbitant cost of fixing them. The bill Fernandes filed faces a long legislative committee process that will include the opportunity for residents and advocates to weigh in on the bill at a public hearing. The public hearing date will be announced in the coming months.


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