2016 Wood Pole Management Award Winners

Each year, Osmose recognizes pole owners with outstanding pole inspection and treatment programs and practices with its Wood Pole Management Awards.  A panel of judges considers several program characteristics when evaluating programs.  These include, but are not limited to the type of inspection program, the use of remedial preservatives to arrest decay and extend pole life, additional services performed to maximize the visit to the pole, restoration methods being used to rehabilitate or upgrade poles rather than replace them, and the use of strength and loading evaluations to more accurately determine remaining strength and reject status.

"The Wood Pole 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, NESC Chairman.  "These utilities have model programs that not only meet, but exceed regulatory mandates while providing benchmarks for the industry as a whole."

The five award-winning companies for 2016 represent the municipal, cooperative, and investor-owned utility markets.  The winners are: PPL Electric Utilities (Pennsylvania) and CenterPoint Energy (Texas) in the IOU category, Central Electric Cooperative (Oklahoma) in the cooperative category, Lakeland Electric (Florida) in the municipal/government category, and the award for the program with the most significant transformation was presented to Cooke County Electric Cooperative (Texas).

PPL Electric Utilities upgraded its inspection and treatment program in 2016 from a partial excavation to a full 18-inch excavation utilizing top-of-the line remedial preservatives including Hollow Heart® CB liquid internal treatment, MITC-FUME®, and MP500-EXT® preservative paste to extend pole life.  Poles identified as rejects during inspection are evaluated for restoration.  Those that can be rehabilitated are restored to code-mandated strength with a C-Truss® or FiberWrapTM for substantially less than the cost of pole replacement.  Non-restorable rejects go into a que for replacement. 

CenterPoint Energy has a comprehensive program that includes inspection of all wood poles on a 10-year cycle.  Poles are excavated to a depth of 18 inches so technicians can carefully examine each pole's condition at groundline, where it is most susceptible to decay.  Remedial preservatives are applied both internally and externally to arrest decay and extend the useful life of the pole.  Poles identified as rejects during inspection are evaluated for restoration.  Those that can be rehabilitated enter the que for structural restoration while those that fail to meet the criteria for restoration enter the que for replacement. 

Central Electric Cooperative (CEC) has had a consistent inspection and treatment program in place for more than 35 years and is nearing completion of its fourth program cycle.  CEC's comprehensive program includes an 18" excavation with both internal and external remedial preservatives applied to the extend the pole's life.  As a result of their consistent and robust program, CEC's reject rate is less than 1%.  Poles identified during inspection as rejects are evaluated for restoration.  Those that can be rehabilitated are trussed to restore code-mandated strength for substantially less than the cost of pole replacement.  CEC leverages its visit to the pole by having technicians attend to minor maintenance items including groundwire repair and guy marker installation. 

Lakeland Electric is leading the way for municipals in Florida with its comprehensive inspection program which includes full excavation for both distribution and transmission poles.  Poles are remedially treated with an external preservative paste and internal wood fumigant to arrest decay and extend pole life.  Now in its second cycle of inspections, Lakeland has an average groundline reject rate of 1.25%.  Poles that fail to meet strength requirements are evaluated for restoration.  Those that can be restored are trussed while those that cannot be restored are replaced.  Lakeland optimizes the visit to the pole by performing minor maintenance items such as installing guy markers and pole stencils, and repairing groundwires and moldings. Not only is Lakeland comprehensive in its approach to inspection, treatment, and restoration, it's also been a model of consistency and serves as a great example for other electric utilities.

Cooke County Electric Cooperative transitioned from inspecting and treating poles on a 15-year cycle to a 10-year cycle in 2015.  Because they are committed to their system safety and reliability, they committed to complete the cycle and inspect all poles that were six years old or older, allowing them to reach poles before decay becomes a problem.  Poles are treated with both an external preservative paste as well as an internal liquid treatment and a fumigant to arrest decay and extend service life.  Cooke also transitioned from reinforcing a select number of poles to reinforcing all restorable rejects identified during inspections.  They also began a pole top program, installing Osmose Pole Toppers® on all new poles and on any existing pole with decayed or splitting tops.   

Best-in-class wood pole programs typically result in lower-than-average reject rates over multiple treatment cycles, reduced costs to mitigate at-risk poles, lower replacement volumes, and improved structural reliability and safety of the pole plant.

For questions regarding best-in-class pole management practices, please contact your local Osmose representative or email poleinfo@osmose.com