Click here for Adobe Acrobat version


This document was converted from Microsoft Word.

Content from the original version of the document such as
headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, graphics, and page numbers
will not show up in this text version.

All text attributes such as bold, italic, underlining, etc. from the
original document will not show up in this text version.

Features of the original document layout such as
columns, tables, line and letter spacing, pagination, and margins
will not be preserved in the text version.

If you need the complete document, download the
Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat version.



   September 28, 2009

   Mr. Gary Palm

   Operations Manager - Helena

   Northwestern Energy

   (address withheld)

   Helena, MT 59604

   Re: EB-09-GB-0027

   Dear Mr. Palm:

   The Federal Communications Commission contacted your company by letter
   dated March 30, 2009, indicating that it had received complaints of
   harmful radio interference possibly caused by power line equipment
   maintained by your company. The interference was reported by:

   (Name withheld)

   (Address withheld)

   Helena, MT 59601

   Tel: (number withheld)

   On June 5, 2009, you responded to the Commission detailing Northwestern
   Energy's (NWE) efforts to resolve the matter and indicated that between
   2003 and 2008, you repaired 215 poles and spent countless man hours in
   attempting to resolve (name withheld)'s interference matter. You further
   note that in late summer 2008 you executed a planned repair in (name
   withheld)'s area in the hope that it would reduce his noise level. In your
   letter, you explain that it was NWE's impression that the complained of
   intermittent 18dB over S9 was no longer detectable and that (name
   withheld)'s communication abilities were significantly improved. To
   support that contention, you note that (name withheld) was able to
   communicate with another licensed amateur in Germany. You did not ,
   however, provide any details of recent attempts to resolve (name
   withheld)'s noise. Rather, you noted that "NWE concluded that its
   facilities were not adversely affecting the operator's ability to

   Such a response is not acceptable. (Name withheld) reports that as of July
   1, 2009, the noise remains at S9 levels and has not decreased at all.
   Contrary to your assertion, (name withheld)'s ability to communicate with
   Germany is not indicative of an improvement in the "noise" level, but is
   rather the result of his directional antenna. Should that antenna be
   turned in another direction, the noise is again prohibiting his use of his
   amateur equipment. Quite often in preparing a response to these letters, a
   utility will indicate that they have spent countless hours attempting to
   locate and correct "noise" in and around the residence of the amateur,
   which is exactly what NWE is reporting herein. Unfortunately, those
   sources of "noise" are not the noise that is causing interference to the
   amateur. It is not the Commission's intent that the utility should correct
   all sources of "noise" in and around the amateur's residence; rather, it
   is our intent that you locate and eliminate the specific noise causing
   radio frequency interference to (name withheld). In order to correctly
   identify and then eliminate the source of (name withheld)'s specific radio
   interference, staff from NWE will need to visit (name withheld)'s
   residence and listen to the noise on his amateur equipment. Once your
   staff has heard (name withheld)'s specific "noise," they will be better
   equipped to locate and correct the specific source of his radio

   To help you better understand your responsibilities under Commission
   rules, here are the most important rules relating to radio and television
   interference from incidental radiators:

   47 CFR S: 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
   incidental radiator.

   (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.

   47 CFR S: 15.13: Incidental radiators.

   Manufacturers of these devices shall employ good engineering practices to
   minimize the risk of harmful interference.

   47 CFR S:  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.

   In order to avoid enforcement action on this matter, you have thirty (30)
   days from the date of receipt of this warning to respond to this office at
   the following address: 1270 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325. The
   response must contain a statement of when you visited (name withheld)'s
   residence and after that visit, the specific action(s) taken to identify
   and eliminate the source(s) of (name withheld)'s radio interference. If
   you have any questions about this matter, please contact me at


   Laura L. Smith

   Special Counsel

   Cc: Seattle Field Office

   Western Regional Director