How to Identify a Safe, Healthy Pole

Learn the Difference Between Powerlines and Communications Lines

Austin Energy’s poles support the distribution lines that allow us to provide safe, reliable power to our customers. 

Many of the utility poles around Austin carry wires and equipment for both power (electric energy) and communications providers such as telephone, internet and cable services.

You can help keep our poles safe and reliable by understanding the parts of a pole, and how a properly-set-up pole should look. Compare this illustration to a pole near you. 

Powerlines and Equipment

The top half of an electric pole holds powerlines and related equipment.

  • Will always be near the top of the pole.
  • Will have insulators that protect wires and equipment.
  • Some utility poles will include a transformer that steps down voltage before electricity is delivered to customers.
  • All powerlines and equipment should be considered energized and dangerous.

Communications Lines

The bottom half of a utility pole contains communication lines.

  • Will usually be 40 inches or more below the powerlines and electric equipment.
  • Will often include communications wires and equipment such as a splicer box, a “snowshoe,” loops of wires or slackened wiring.
  • Communications wires and associated equipment are generally not as dangerous as powerlines. 
  • However, all downed lines and equipment should be reported to expedite repairs.
  • To report issues / violations with communication lines, contact Austin Energy's Pole Attachment Group.

Be Safe! Never Go Near Fallen Powerlines

If there is immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Report all downed powerlines, trees, or tree limbs touching power lines to 512-322-9100. 

Date last reviewed or modified: 7/14/17

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