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10/27/2015

At Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC), we understand and can appreciate the need for posting yard sale signs or hanging decorations.  Whether it’s to share information with the neighborhood or to get in the holiday spirit, at some point there’s a need to hang something up.  But there’s one place hanging items don’t belong: on utility poles.

By attaching items to poles – from the tiniest of posters to something as large as a basketball hoop or birdhouse – you are not only breaking the law, but risking the lives of others, especially the linemen, whose jobs are already dangerous. It may not sound like a big deal, but a small nail, tack or screw partially driven into a pole can tear a lineman’s glove and clothing, compromising their safety and making them vulnerable to electrocution.

Not only do the attachments put line crews at risk, but anyone placing items on poles comes dangerously close to energized power lines.

A secondary concern is that moisture and insects get into holes surrounding nails, damaging the poles and increasing maintenance costs. That’s an expense to you, SVEC’s member-owners.

“Yard sale signs, event signs, party signs, and holiday decorations.  You name it, we’ve seen it,” said Scott Boyd, a line superintendent for the Winchester District. “People will use anything from staples to a size 16D nail to hang them, and that’s where the problem lies. Once the sign is removed or blows away with the wind, the fastener remains intact. The hazard is not only trying to climb the pole, but just walking by with something protruding out of the pole. I just don’t think most people realize how quickly these tacks, nails, etc., build up around the pole.”

“We have some poles in the Winchester city limits that have some kind of information fastened to them weekly, and you would be amazed at how many staples and nails are left there.”

You may be surprised to know fastening signs and advertising to a pole violates Virginia law, too. Anyone who places items on poles is subject to a civil penalty of $100, according to state code. Unauthorized attachments also violate the National Electric Safety Code.

Please help us keep our linemen – and the communities they serve – safe by removing any unauthorized items from utility poles. Fixtures not belonging to SVEC or another utility will be removed by line personnel, and the Cooperative is not responsible for any losses if an item is damaged or destroyed during removal.

Signs for yard sales, parties or other events should be put on stakes in the ground or another safe location. We appreciate your cooperation.