Anyone ever had this done? What does this kind of thing typically cost if I have to pay for it? The utility cooperative here won't tell me anything without first paying hundreds of dollars for a "tech to review it". That was their immediate answer with zero research - they weren't even interested in what address / where I was talking about and would not give me a ball park within even "$10k dollars".

We just purchased this small farm property we live on in Montana. We are actively haying the property as was the previous owner. We are surrounded by a few small housing developments and other rural small farms. While it's easy to get a car around this pole, the farming operation requires that we bring a semi in at least 3 times a season + other large equipment on occasion. It has to go through major detours of multiple miles and through a small rural housing development, finally doing a complicated turn-around in a Cul-de-sac nearby all due to this pole being in the way on the main entrance. Ie. People have to deal with us driving our equipment through their neighborhoods. The previous owners have always done this, and while the community is understanding, it's not ideal and gets more complex as the area develops / fills up with more homes. There is also a very popular camping / river entrance that we have to drive through to do this and sometimes it's a nightmare. The sole reason for this is the pole. It's literally about 15 minutes extra + the nuisance to everyone.

Any pointers? Any typical state departments which regulate how the utilities right-of-ways are used / abused? Again, this is my residence as well and I am planning a lot of DIY improvements including improving / paving the long driveway. Would rather get this pole moved before I do that.

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  • 10
    Is that a driveway or a public road we're looking at? If driveway, it may be easier to just move it/make it wider, then trying to deal with getting the pole moved. Also it looks to me like it's a power pole with phone company renting space on it. Coincidentally, I recently talked to an engineer who is running a reconstruct project on the road I'm on, and he mentioned it costs about $10k per pole to move those.This involved moving an entire power line, so for just one pole, the cost will likely be higher. Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 17:52
  • 4
    I fully empathize with your situation, especially in the "wild west" of MT (we used to be neighbors - I grew up in ID). However, I'm in agreement with Philipp - while I'm not sure which way the truck needs to enter/exit, it would probably be much easier and cheaper in the long run to make the driveway adjustments on your property and leave the power company out of it, especially since they're being obstinate. You may, however, consider contacting the Public Utility Commission to see what they suggest.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 18:00
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    Got it. Not unheard of to buy a small piece of your neighbor's land (or just buy an easement to widen your driveway) for situations like these. This would still not be cheap (involving land surveying, attorneys, removing trees, dirtwork etc.). Informal agreements do happen as well, but there is a risk this becomes a problem when you try to sell your property. Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 18:08
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    Offer to pay for the work and planting a replacement tree as a good will gesture.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 18:24
  • 3
    I imagine your purchase involved a title search that generated parcel descriptions and maps (get them from your county office if not). Before taking any action, consult those documents carefully, because fences, driveways, hedges, etc have a tendency to disappear or move over the years, and you might own more or less of a portion than you think. A number of times I've purchased parcels that legally varied significantly from a casual visual appraisal, even including things like forgotten easements.
    – joe snyder
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 20:49

3 Answers 3


This is a job for an easement, plain and simple.

There's another driveway right next to you that is well-situated. You need to be as quiet as a mouse about your level of desperation, and just approach that property owner and say "hey having 2 driveways is stupid, couldn't we combine?" And pay enough money to get a "yes".

Make sure it is an EASEMENT and get a lawyer involved. Easement law is a mess, that's not a thing to DIY.

Moving this pole seems super hard

I suspect moving this pole will be a nightmare, because I see a high voltage (well, 10kv-ish) up top meaning 2 poles must replace this one on the / route, then I see what looks like local lower-voltage service on the \ route, so maybe 1 but probably 2 poles to replace that. Then I also think I see phone on both routes, and I definitely see what look like phone junction boxes there at the bottom of the pole - 2 of them. Which means something needs to come in the vicinity of "here", and that may require undergrounding from where else that pole ends up.

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    Good job identifying the three phase 13.2 kv on the top and the two fused single phase 7.6kv laterals going right and left.+
    – JACK
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 22:04
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    Yea, you definitely don't want to move this pole. Not only would it have to be removed and replaced, the net it's part of will have to be redesigned to make sure no failures occur. If there's 3 services going over that pole (highV, lowV and phone), that's 3 nets. Rules and directives may have changed, so the new pole may well be much more sophisticated than the old one. Not to mention the possible outage during the move...
    – Mast
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 13:52
  • 1
    Looking at this again, knowing the approach is from the right of the image and that the target is the driveway on the right, I'd think it would take not only an easement to get legal access to the neighbor's driveway, but also significantly widening the driveway to give enough room for a semi w/50-60' trailer (this is the West, they allow pretty long trailers) enough room to make that corner and not take out the pole. Much easier to get an easement to the right of the target driveway, taking out the fence, tree(s) and mailboxes (not pictured).
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 17:42
  • @FreeMan hence "having two driveways..." not "having two road entrances" ; because you'd need to combine a significant length under any circumstances, and an agreement sharing maintenance costs all the way back to where they diverge would offer the biggest reward to the other property owner. Replenishment graveling/etc for a quarter mile driveway is a decent recurring cost. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 18:17
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    @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight I understand that, but the neighbor to the left may not want to "give up" that much property to an easement and driveway widening project. It would take significantly more land to the left of the pole for turning clearance for large trucks than it would for turning clearance to the right of the pole and an easement with the other neighbor.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 18:31

I have had 2 poles moved (1 moved simple on my property, the other 1 added to move another. The first one only cost about 5k because we owned the 2 homes that this pole Fed (only 2 existing homes) and we were adding 2 more houses and needed wider access. I think we had to give up an additional 5’ right away on the property but it was not a big deal they did it the week I sent the check.

The second one was in the middle of a T much like yours but on the other side we wanted to make an x because the county would not allow for the entrance to be offset the pole was ~ 9’ on our side of the property line. 1 pole on our side one further on his side both in the existing right of way. the proposal the neighbor did not want the additional homes and tried to block it long story short the utility put in a new pole 50 or 75’ on either side of the existing pole so our road would be a 4 way that was close to 30k but it also included a new transformer to feed the houses , that was over 20 years ago the 2 pole was more expensive because it was a “heavy line” , some of the costs were county (new stop signs and paint) some were legal but the majority was moving the 1 pole and adding I think the heavier transformer was only 5k for all the houses but that took several months , once we got the OK (total over a year) it took the utility over a week on site prepping putting in the new poles and framework for the transformers. If it requires county intervention expect the costs to go up and be ready to pay close to 1k per stop sign, the main road was paved but originally the 2 turn off’s were not but because of the total number of houses down both roads they required a 4 way stop. I think 3 houses require a Stop sign & street sign. That’s what I remember.

  • 6
    I did hundreds of these requests while at the power company. Sometimes, if the pole was deteriorated, I'd move it a few feet for free. +
    – JACK
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 22:07
  • 2
    @jack I only talked about totally up to snuff requests, when my dad was still here he had me get a few nails with numbers , pull the metal tags on the newer poles and drive the nail with a date ( a brother in law of his) told him about this, they did update those poles and transformers then we did not have to pay for an upgrade. This was back in the 70’s doubt if that would work today with computers.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 1:06
  • @EdBeal not only would I not bet on that working today, it's almost certainly illegal.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 1:41
  • @matthew I am sure that’s what I said in my comment, the date nails have not been l used for decades , as far as illegal they read the nail all I did was move a nail I did not ask for anything they did it based on the date.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 15:11

Depending on a few different factors you'd be looking at $10-40k. The fact that it seems to have live lines in 4 directions and that would have to move 20+ feet to relocate over either driveway (so good chance 2 poles would replace one) makes the higher end of the range seem more likely.

Widening your driveway is likely the more practical option than paying to move the pole but for few hundred dollars you might catch a loophole that allows for avoiding it (eg. pole is not on easement, pole is not to code, etc). Personally I'd pay a few hundred to have a technician take a look at it and see if they will work with you to find a reason that the pole shouldn't have been put there in the first place.

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