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DREMC and Comcast resolve pole attachment fee dispute to avoid cable interruption

Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 10:00 am

LOGO Duck River ElectricDuck River Electric Membership Corp. (DREMC) members in Franklin and Moore counties won’t see their Comcast service interrupted over a pole attachment fee debt dispute. Comcast paid in full the amount owed for two years, averting the disconnection of power supplies and equipment attached to co-op utility poles that was scheduled Nov. 10.

Comcast also agreed to resume discussions over contract renewal with DREMC.

“We are glad Comcast finally addressed the issue of the attachment fees owed for use of our utility poles over the past two years, allowing us to take steps to resolve this issue for the benefit of our members and their subscribers,” said DREMC President and CEO Michael Watson.

The cable TV giant’s failure to pay for use of the co-op’s poles drew media coverage from across Tennessee, becoming one of the lead stories for several days in the Nashville television market. The issue also caught the attention of those on social media.

“For us, this became a matter a principle: That Comcast, despite its size and billions of dollars in revenue, needs to pay for the space it uses on the utility poles owned by the members of this electric cooperative,” said Watson.

DREMC rents space on its poles to telephone and cable TV companies. Because the co-op is a non-profit and cost-based utility, the fees are calculated to recover the capital investment, maintenance expense and property taxes related to the footage used by other parties.

Comcast had not paid the fees due to DREMC under its former contract and had failed to enter into a new contract. This set up the showdown over detachment of cable, fiber and other equipment — and the possible loss of service to several thousand subscribers and co-op members.

“I can’t say enough about the involvement of those members,” added Watson. “Despite the fact that they could have seen their cable and internet service interrupted, many of them spoke out in support of their co-op and strongly urged Comcast to address the past-due fees.”

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, headquartered in Shelbyville, is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative serving 72,000 residences, businesses and farms. District offices are located in Columbia, Manchester, Decherd, Sewanee, Shelbyville, Lynchburg and Lewisburg.

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