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The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Kokua Line column
[November 23, 2012]

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Kokua Line column

Nov 23, 2012 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Question: It seems the utilities are no longer "replacing" utility poles. Instead, when a pole is unsafe, due to age or termites, or even when it's been knocked partially down by an auto, they place a new pole next to the old one, sometimes strapping them together. Hawaiian Electric Co. transfers their lines to the new pole as soon as it is in, but the phone lines, cable lines and usually street lights are left on the old pole, even when they are inches apart. There has been a lot of talk about view planes lately, but this seems to be the norm and is cluttering the skyline. I see this all over the island, and in Kailua if I go one mile down the road, I will see six sets of double poles. Why is this the norm Who is responsible Answer: Hawaiian Electric ultimately is responsible for removing the poles, but removal also depends on when the other utilities complete their work.

HECO was "striving" to replace about 1,200 aging poles this year as part of its move to upgrade Oahu's electric infrastructure to strengthen the grid and improve service, said spokesman Peter Rosegg.

In addition to power lines, many poles hold cable television and telephone lines and street lights.

In replacing the aging poles, HECO tries to coordinate with other utilities, the state and city "so equipment can be transferred promptly," Rosegg said. "But in cases when it cannot, old poles are secured in place until others can transfer their equipment." He added that HECO doesn't keep track of when its "pole partners" complete their work, although there is ongoing informal communication among everyone involved.

Asked where the poles come from and where they end up, Rosegg said they come from a mainland firm that treats and pressurizes logs gotten chiefly from the Pacific Northwest.

Costs vary depending on the length of the poles, ranging from several hundred dollars to several thousand for "exceptionally tall poles." Old poles, removed by a contractor, are sent to the landfill because they are not appropriate for other uses, Rosegg said.

BWS DISCHARGE UPDATE The state Department of Health's Clean Water Branch has completed its investigation into a complaint brought by a "Kokua Line" reader about what he said was an inordinate amount of water being discharged by the Board of Water Supply at its Waialua Wells facility (see

The branch has confirmed with BWS "that there is an erosion problem being caused by BWS discharge, and a water dispersing device or some other option will be required," said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

She said BWS has agreed to work with the owner or lessee of the property where the water is being discharged "to mitigate the situation and resolve the problem." The Clean Water Branch staff will help facilitate a resolution between the two parties, Okubo said. "Hopefully, the two parties can work together to come to a mutually agreed upon solution to the erosion being caused by the water discharge." BWS, meanwhile, is continuing to work with the Health Department "to look into what can be done within its easement to mitigate this issue," said spokeswoman Tracy Burgo.

Okubo said no penalty or "any enforcement" is involved. She also said the Clean Water Branch does not require a permit in this situation.

MAHALO To a kind lady. Last month I parked at Costco Gentry and walked toward the store. A lady with two children and husband waved to me excitedly and called out. I finally realized she was waving to me. She told me I had dropped my wallet. I thanked her but didn't get her name. This kupuna appreciates this kind gesture deeply. May she be blessed. -- Grace ________ Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

___ (c)2012 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Visit The Honolulu Star-Advertiser at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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