Wood Pole Inspection and Replacement Program Continues at Penelec to Enhance Service Reliability
To help enhance the reliability of its system, Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) crews have replaced or repaired nearly 600 wooden utility poles so far this year as part of the company's annual inspection program.
Overall, Penelec, a FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) utility, expects to inspect more than 41,100 of its 493,339 wooden poles in 2014 for signs of wear, insect infestation or damage from a car accident.
A standard 40-foot wooden distribution pole typically is expected to last more than 50 years. The most common utility pole is made from a Southern Yellow Pine tree and costs about $400.
"Wooden utility poles form the backbone of our distribution network that delivers electricity to the homes and businesses throughout Penelec's service area. We expect to replace or repair about 850 poles by the end of the year as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance service reliability for our customers," said Scott Wyman, regional president, Penelec. "While certainly durable, these poles are in the elements 365 days of the year and subject to damage from severe weather, falling trees, and traffic accidents. Over time, some poles need to be replaced to help maintain our system's reliability and resiliency."
Typically, specialized contractors perform the pole inspections. As part of the process, a visual inspection is completed, along with inspecting the pole to determine if the interior is sound. Poles also can be reinforced rather than replaced. One of the most common reinforcement techniques is to snug a C-shaped steel beam against the pole, jackhammer the beam into the ground, and secure it to the pole with tight, metal bands.
All wood poles throughout the 31-county Penelec service territory are inspected on a 12-year cycle. Inspections began in January and will continue through summer, with the remaining pole replacements and repairs scheduled to be completed during the fall.
Year-to-date, Penelec has inspected more than 36,500 wooden poles in and around the following communities:
- Altoona - 4,863
- Clearfield - 246
- Philipsburg - 3,494
- Dubois - 3,455
- Indiana - 2,222
- Erie - 8,802
- Johnstown - 3,139
- Somerset - 1,700
- Lewistown - 3,250
- Shippensburg - 764
- Oil City - 1,988
- Meadville - 1,771
- Bradford - 870
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York.
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