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VIA CERTIFIED MAIL - RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
July 6, 2011
Mr. Joseph Waltz
Director of Energy Resources
Department of Energy Resources
520 E. 6th Street #A
Front Royal, Virginia 22630-4006
Mr. Kent Farmer
247 Industrial Court
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22408
Mr. Waltz and Mr. Farmer:
The Federal Communications Commission has been in contact with
representatives of your respective companies since July of 2010 to inform
your company that the Commission had received complaints of harmful radio
interference possibly caused by power line equipment maintained by one or
both of your companies. The interference was reported by:
Phone: (number withheld)
Between July of 2010 and September of 2010, agents at the Commission's
Columbia field office spoke with several representatives of Front Royal
Electric (Missy, Tim, Mike and Mr. Jenkins) advising them that this
problem, if unresolved, could be a violation of Commission rules and could
possibly result in a monetary forfeiture. As a result of these
conversations, Front Royal Electric made several repairs. The field agents
also spoke with representatives of Rappahannock Electric (Mr. Rutherford
and Mr. Potter). At that time, Mr. Potter indicated that there were
several loose connections on the some of the poles indicating that they
might be the source of the interference. Mr. Potter indicated that
Rappahannock would get a truck out to tighten the connections.
In November and December of 2010 and again in April of 2011, agents from
the Commission's Columbia field office conducted more field inspections.
They again spoke with representatives of both Front Royal Electric and
Rappahannock Electric. During the course of those field inspections,
several sources of interference were located and the appropriate utility
was contacted and advised of the poles needing repair. During the past
several months, the licensee has continued to experience interference and
continues to contact the two utilities in an effort to get the problem
fixed. On May 30, 2011, a truck hit a pole on the main street heading into
Front Royal resulting in a power outage for the area around the
complainant's residence. During the time the power was out, the
complainant used a hand-held Sony 201 battery powered amateur radio and
checked all of the amateur bands for interference. The bands were
completely free from interference during the entire time the power was out
in his area.
The Commission has the responsibility to require that utility companies
rectify any such problems within a reasonable time if the interference is
caused by faulty power utility equipment. Under FCC rules, most power-line
and related equipment is classified as an "incidental radiator." This term
is used to describe equipment that does not intentionally generate any
radio-frequency energy, but that may create such energy as an incidental
part of its intended operation.
To help you better understand your responsibilities under FCC rules, here
are the most important rules relating to radio and television interference
from incidental radiators:
Title 47, CFR Section 15.5 General conditions of operation.
(b) Operation of an intentional, unintentional, or incidental radiator is
subject to the conditions that no harmful interference is caused and that
interference must be accepted that may be caused by the operation of an
authorized radio station, by another intentional or unintentional
radiator, by industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) equipment, or by an
(c) The operator of the radio frequency device shall be required to cease
operating the device upon notification by a Commission representative that
the device is causing harmful interference. Operation shall not resume
until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected.
Title 47, CFR Section 15.13 Incidental radiators.
Manufacturers of these devices shall employ good engineering practices to
minimize the risk of harmful interference.
Title 47, CFR Section 15.15 General technical requirements.
(c) Parties responsible for equipment compliance should note that the
limits specified in this part will not prevent harmful interference under
all circumstances. Since the operators of Part 15 devices are required to
cease operation should harmful interference occur to authorized users of
the radio frequency spectrum, the parties responsible for equipment
compliance are encouraged to employ the minimum field strength necessary
for communications, to provide greater attenuation of unwanted emissions
than required by these regulations, and to advise the user as to how to
resolve harmful interference problems (for example, see Sec. 15.105(b)).
The complainant has attempted unsuccessfully to work through your usual
complaint resolution process going so far as to have FCC field agents come
into his area on multiple occasions to help locate and resolve the
problem. To date the interference still continues and neither company has
been able to adequately locate and resolve the interference. As a result,
the matter has been referred to my office for resolution. The Commission
prefers that those responsible for the proper operation of power lines
assume their responsibilities fairly. This means that both of your
companies should locate the source of any interference caused by your
respective equipment and make necessary corrections within a reasonable
While the Commission has confidence that most utility companies are able
to resolve these issues voluntarily, the Commission wants to make both of
your offices aware that this unresolved problem may be a violation of FCC
rules and could result in a monetary forfeiture for each occurrence. At
this stage, the Commission encourages the parties to resolve this problem
without further Commission intervention, but if necessary to facilitate
resolution, the Commission may investigate possible rules violations and
address appropriate remedies.
The American Radio Relay League, a national organization of Amateur Radio
operators, may be able to offer help and guidance about radio interference
that involves Amateur Radio operators.
American Radio Relay League
Radio Frequency Interference Desk
225 Main Street
Newington, CT 06111
Please advise the complainant and this office what steps both of your
companies are taking to correct this reported interference problem. The
Commission expects that most cases can be resolved within 60 days of the
time they are first reported to the utility company. If you are unable to
resolve this matter by September 9, 2011, please advise this office about
the nature of the problem, the steps you are taking to resolve it and the
estimated time in which those steps can be accomplished.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact me in writing
at: 1270 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 17325 or via phone at
717-338-2577. Thank you for your cooperation.
Laura L. Smith
Cc: Columbia Field Office
Northeast Regional Director
Agents at the FCC's Columbia field office initially spoke with Mr. Jenkins
of Front Royal Electric and Mr. Potter of Rappahannock Electric.
While the complainant is not a customer of Rappahannock Electric, his
residence is within a short distance of the demarcation line between
Rappahannock's territory and that of Front Royal.