Cooperative News

PEC wins 2018 Wood Pole Program Management Award

Cooperative recognized for best-in-class maintenance program

In April, PEC received the 2018 Wood Pole Program Management Award for the best-in-class cooperative utility category from Osmose, a leading service provider that safeguards the North American utility infrastructure.

Each year, Osmose receives nominations for its Wood Pole Program Management Award, which recognizes best-in-class inspection, treatment, and restoration programs. Of the more than 200 cooperatives serviced by an Osmose pole inspection and treatment program, only a select few were nominated for the 2018 Wood Pole Plant Management Award. The final awards were determined by a panel of judges that includes the chairman of the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC).

“It is an honor to be selected for this prestigious award,” said Distribution Program Coordinator Belinda Basse. “The team has worked diligently to enhance reliability, savings, and safety for our members through this program, so it’s great to be recognized.”

PEC’s Pole Test and Treat (PTT) program aims to improve the reliability of our power service by ensuring the health of the wood poles that support our power lines. The PTT program operates a complex system of inspection and maintenance. In 2018, the group replaced or restored 2,566 aging or damaged poles, and treated an additional 48,025 poles against future decay.

“This program has a direct impact on safety and reliability,” System Maintenance Manager Dennis Brown said. “Our goal is to replace poles before they can cause an interruption to service for the membership.” And by treating healthy poles to prevent decay, the group extends their life.

Some highlights of PEC’s award-winning PTT program include:

  • Inspection of all wood poles on a 10-year cycle
  • Internal and external preservative treatments are used to extend pole life
  • Saves more than $11 million in future replacement costs
  • More than 90% of all poles inspected during most recent cycle received a remedial treatment
  • Poles identified as rejects during inspection are evaluated for restoration
  • Those that can be rehabilitated are restored to code-mandated strength for substantially less than the cost of pole replacement, saving almost $1 million annually

“This program saves money for the membership, and makes PEC good stewards of natural resources,” Brown said. “It’s a win-win.”

This is how we keep our poles standing strong:

  • Poles 0-9 years old
    Contractors complete a visual inspection only. If the pole is not visibly damaged (say, by weather or pests), then it’s good to go.
  • Poles 10-29 years old
    Contractors complete visual as well as sound and bore inspections (hitting the pole with a hammer while listening for the sound of voids and pole deficiencies, drilling into the pole, and measuring remaining shell thickness with special tools, and looking for any internal decay). Healthy poles are treated with a preservative fumigant to prolong pole life. Poles below 67% strength are either replaced or restored with a steel truss.
  • Poles 30+ years old
    Contractors complete all of the above inspections, plus a full excavation around the pole and removal of any external decay. If, at that point, the pole meets the strength and condition requirements, it is treated with an internal fumigant and ground line treatment.

Our inspectors also visually assess all poles for other potential maintenance issues, such as damaged or broken crossarms, slack or damaged guy wires or other faulty equipment, adding an additional layer of safety and reliability to our system.