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Woodpecker holes topple PG&E power pole

By: Julie Miller, Design and Content Manager
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A power pole that had been pecked repeatedly by woodpeckers, snapped in two and was replaced Thursday to the delight of residents off Millertown Road in Auburn. 
PG&E said the pole’s holey condition was reported three months ago. When the break happened Thursday, a nearby resident reported it and PG&E came out the same day. The rural Millertown Road neighborhood was out of power from about 2:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
“We appreciate customers when they let us know when they see things that can be a problem,” said Brandi Merlo, a spokeswoman for PG&E. “In general we have an extensive testing and inspection program.” 
The testing is done by digging below the ground plus analyzing the pole above. Tests are completed annually and poles that are deemed dangerous are flagged as a hazard, Merlo said. 
Three months ago, the pole wasn’t marked for a prompt replacement. When it broke, however, then it became dangerous.
As for birds and other critters who eat or nest in power poles, Merlo said this is not uncommon — especially in the foothills.
Should an animal make a power pole their home, Merlo said, PG&E workers try to protect the creature as well as ensure the safety of human residents and reliability of service.
Depending on the size and depth of holes made, crews may fill them with a composite to rebuild strength.
“Safety is our top priority,” Merlo emphasized.