Hang the For Sale Sign: Why & When of Buying or Selling Utility Poles

Posted by Ashley Little on October 8, 2014

hang_out_for_the_for_sale_signTelephone poles are a valuable asset for power utilities, municipalities and telecoms—hundreds to thousands of forty-foot revenue-generating properties. For the most part, poles generally remain under fairly static ownership much of their lives, but there are a few reasons an entity might end up buying or selling utility poles.

Natural Reasons

If a pole owner buries its plant but other attachers still need their equipment overhead, the original owner may opt to sell the standing pole.

Natural Disasters

When storms or other natural disasters damage or take down poles, sometimes a non-owner will replace the pole before the current owner. In this case, ownership is transferred to the company placing the new pole.

Delayed Transfers

Zero-dollar sales happen when a company inherits a pole in a long-awaited transfer. In this case, the new owner usually pays the cost of removal of the old pole, and the original owner assumes ownership. This also may happens when a larger pole is needed at a site, and its installation results in double wood.

Inherited Assets

In some cases where a subscriber owns a pole and the property changes hands, an attaching company may wish to purchase the pole.

Ownership Dispute

Finally, when ownership of a pole is in dispute, a purported owner may decide to simply offload the asset for a price rather than continue the process of determining true ownership.

Beyond the reason for sale however, for utility pole owners, the bigger question regarding change of pole ownership revolves around what affect buying and selling can have on joint use records.

If an owner is using pen and paper or a typical spreadsheet to record pole statistics, including attachments, the sale of a pole could leave a hole in records that may not be filled until the next field audit. The solution: using a connected joint use management solution that makes communication with attaching companies easy for transfer of equipment as well as seamless internal organization and record-keeping.

So, our advice: do not just sell and forget about it. Transfer poles from one owner to the next and transmit that information to the entities that need to know.

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