With more than 7,000 miles of electrical distribution lines, Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative covers a significant part of North and East Texas. And for most of those 7,000 miles, simple wooden power poles provide the foundation for the reliable and cost-effective service that makes up TVEC’s mission.
With the great variation in seasonal weather, soil conditions and simple aging it is quite a task to inspect and maintain the wooden infrastructure and stay ahead of Mother Nature. However, the challenge is certainly worth the effort, and TVEC’s efforts are paying off in saving money while increasing reliability.
Now 14 years into a comprehensive pole management program the results are easy to recognize, and TVEC was recently recognized with a Best-in-Class Wood Pole Plant Management Award.
“The Wood Pole Plant Management Awards recognize pole owners who have successfully implemented wood pole inspection and treatment programs that contribute to positive financial, structural reliability and operational outcomes, including effective risk management and enhanced safety,” said Nelson Bingel, chairman of the National Electrical Safety Code Committee. “These utilities have model programs that not only meet but exceed regulatory mandates while providing benchmarks for the industry as a whole.”
Along with contractor Osmose, TVEC maintains a 10-year inspection cycle for wood poles. The program includes a full ground-line inspection, and internal and external preservative treatments to extend the life of poles. Poles that are found to be decayed but serviceable can have their life extended by adding a steel truss that brings the pole back to code-mandated strength at a fraction of the cost of pole replacement.
And of course, poles that have reached the end of their useful lives are replaced before they create a safety hazard for working linemen or the general public.
In addition to inspecting and grading poles, the crews also take care of any routine maintenance installing guy wire markers, groundwire repairs and collecting GPS data for TVEC’s mapping department.
Osmose estimates savings of about $3 million annually by treating and restoring poles, which does not take into account the added benefit of increased reliability and safety.
TVEC members receive a notification postcard when pole inspection crews will be working in their area. Please note that these crews will need to access the electrical poles on your property to complete their work.