OYS: Some power repairs are up to the homeowner

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News 12 at 11 / Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TRENTON, S.C. (WRDW) -- You'd think all the power poles would be the power company's responsibility to repair, but we're finding out that's not always the case. One South Carolina man is still in the dark because SCE&G says they can't safely restore power until he fixes the pole leading the wires into his mobile home.

Now, James Boatwright's learning about a responsibility some homeowners might not know they have.

If your power is still out, you might have what's called a service level outage, which means you have to do some work before the power company can restore your lights.

For a while, trees cracking was the sound heard around the area as ice pushed branches to their breaking point. Now because of a broken service pole, Boatwright is being pushed to his.

"We've done without power for 5 days. It was kinda rough, but we made it," Boatwright said.

As power crews worked around the clock to restore power, Boatwright thought all he had to do was be patient and wait his turn. So, he was surprised to find out fixing the service pole was his responsibility.

"They told me now that we've got to take care of this and fix this pole," he said.

Surprised as well, News 12 got on the phone with SCE&G to find out why.

"If there's damage to that pole, or the pole has fallen down, it is the customer's responsibility to fix that and restore that until we can safely restore service to the customer," said Eric Boomhower, spokesman for SCE&G.

It's not just any pole Boatwright will have to replace. According to SCE&G standards, it must be at least 20 feet long, sit five feet in the ground and at least 15 feet above it. It's a difficult task for an elderly, disabled man.

"I can't walk far, and I can't lift nothing heavy or nothing like that," Boatwright explained. "Our anniversary was Friday, and we spent it in the dark."

In a home, everything leading up to the box called the weatherhead is the power company's responsibility. The weatherhead itself and all the cables heading inside is the homeowner's responsibility, meaning you'd need to hire an electrician to do repairs before you can get your lights back on.

"Legally and from a practical standpoint, we cannot go in there and take on the responsibility for fixing that," Boomhower said. "They have to hire a licensed electrician to do that work."

In Boatwright's case, since he lives in a mobile home, the pole is also considered his responsibility.

"I just hope we can get our power back," Boatwright said on the verge of tears.

SCE&G says they sympathize with Boatwright's case, but it really comes down to safety, and until that pole is fixed, it's not safe to turn power back on.

Boatwright owns the trailer but rents the land he lives on, so his landlord has offered him a power pole, but he won't have a helper to get it in the ground until Thursday. That means two more days in the dark for him and his wife.

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