160D-937. Access to city utility poles to install small wireless facilities.

(a) A city may not enter into an exclusive arrangement with any person for the right to collocate small wireless facilities on city utility poles. A city shall allow any wireless provider to collocate small wireless facilities on its city utility poles at just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory rates, terms, and conditions, but in no instance may the rate exceed fifty dollars ($50.00) per city utility pole per year. The North Carolina Utilities Commission shall not consider this subsection as evidence in a proceeding initiated pursuant to G.S. 62-350(c).

(b) A request to collocate under this section may be denied only if there is insufficient capacity or for reasons of safety, reliability, and generally applicable engineering principles, and those limitations cannot be remedied by rearranging, expanding, or otherwise reengineering the facilities at the reasonable and actual cost of the city to be reimbursed by the wireless provider. In granting a request under this section, a city shall require the requesting entity to comply with applicable safety requirements, including the National Electrical Safety Code and the applicable rules and regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

(c) If a city that operates a public enterprise as permitted by Article 16 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes has an existing city utility pole attachment rate, fee, or other term with an entity, then, subject to termination provisions, that attachment rate, fee, or other term shall apply to collocations by that entity or its related entities on city utility poles.

(d) Following receipt of the first request from a wireless provider to collocate on a city utility pole, a city shall, within 60 days, establish the rates, terms, and conditions for the use of or attachment to the city utility poles that it owns or controls. Upon request, a party shall state in writing its objections to any proposed rate, terms, and conditions of the other party.

(e) In any controversy concerning the appropriateness of a rate for a collocation attachment to a city utility pole, the city has the burden of proving that the rates are reasonably related to the actual, direct, and reasonable costs incurred for use of space on the pole for such period.

(f) The city shall provide a good-faith estimate for any make-ready work necessary to enable the city utility pole to support the requested collocation, including pole replacement, if necessary, within 60 days after receipt of a complete application. Make-ready work, including any pole replacement, shall be completed within 60 days of written acceptance of the good-faith estimate by the applicant. For purposes of this section, the term "make-ready work" means any modification or replacement of a city utility pole necessary for the city utility pole to support a small wireless facility in compliance with applicable safety requirements, including the National Electrical Safety Code, that is performed in preparation for a collocation installation.

(g) The city shall not require more make-ready work than that required to meet applicable codes or industry standards. Fees for make-ready work shall not include costs related to preexisting or prior damage or noncompliance. Fees for make-ready work, including any pole replacement, shall not exceed actual costs or the amount charged to other communications service providers for similar work and shall not include any consultant fees or expenses.

(h) Nothing in this Part shall be construed to apply to an entity whose poles, ducts, and conduits are subject to regulation under section 224 of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 151, et seq., as amended, or under G.S. 62-350.

(i) This section shall not apply to an excluded entity. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the authority of an excluded entity to deny, limit, restrict, or determine the rates, fees, terms, and conditions for the use of or attachment to its utility poles, city utility poles, or wireless support structures by a wireless provider. This section shall not be construed to alter or affect the provisions of G.S. 62-350, and the rates, terms, or conditions for the use of poles, ducts, or conduits by communications service providers, as defined in G.S. 62-350, are governed solely by G.S. 62-350. For purposes of this section, "excluded entity" means (i) a city that owns or operates a public enterprise pursuant to Article 16 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes consisting of an electric power generation, transmission, or distribution system or (ii) an electric membership corporation organized under Chapter 117 of the General Statutes that owns or controls poles, ducts, or conduits, but which is exempt from regulation under section 224 of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 151, et seq., as amended. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)