Homeowner says PSE won’t restore power until she pays for new power pole

ORTING, Wash. — A Pierce County homeowner says she hasn't had electricity for weeks, ever since a tree fell and knocked out a power pole on her property.

Now she says the power company won’t help until she replaces the pole at her expense.

Ruth Clarke lost power 18 days ago. But she says Puget Sound Energy told her she has to replace the pole before her power can be restored.

She didn’t even know the power pole belonged to her.

“Why does it have to be so difficult?” she said, tearing up. “I’m low-income, and I can’t afford $4,000 for a pole.”

Tears come easily to Clarke these days. After all, she has been in the dark at her house outside Orting since the day before Thanksgiving, when a windstorm blew through.

“It was a horrible sound,” she said. “And that was that tree falling and hit. We opened up the front door. And it was just nothing but pollen and needles everywhere.”

She walked around back to where the tree took out the power line and the pole it was attached to.

“This is that power pole,” said Clarke, pointing to the stump that remains. “It was standing straight up. And the stuff was strapped to the pole.”

So she called Puget Sound Energy to come out and restore her power. She was told she owns the power pole and PSE won’t do anything until she replaces it.

“It has to be a certain size around,” she said. “It has to be no less than 5 1/2 inches at the top. It has to be a pressure-treated pole, cedar pole.”

She says the entire operation would cost her some $4,000, which she cannot afford.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said.

And she isn’t living alone here. She has two cows to care for and a barnyard full of chickens.

Now she is appealing to PSE to come to their aid.

“So put in a pole and let me pay for it,” she said. “You know, every month pay a little on it. Do something to help me.”

KIRO 7 reached out to PSE to get their side of this story. No one from PSE had responded by news time.

>> Read more here about claims submitted to PSE and the company’s potential liability

Some viewers wrote asking if Clarke has homeowner’s insurance. She doesn’t.

A friend has started a GoFundMe page to help out.