Steel Poles to Stand Tall Against Fire Storms in SDGE Installation in National Forest

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has initiated a five year, $600 million public safety fire hardening project that will replace 150 miles of overhead power poles and transmission lines in the Cleveland National Forest—the largest such project in SDG&E history.

As part of the project, nearly 2,000 wooden poles will be replaced with taller, longer lasting, fire-resistant steel poles that are capable of withstanding winds up to 85 miles per hour.


SDGE video about replacing wood with steel poles

SDG&E officials say the new poles will be capable of carrying thicker lines that will be spread farther apart, minimizing the chance of sparking during high winds or other significant weather events. Specifically, the steel poles will help minimize the chance of massive wildfires such as the events that occurred in 2007 California Firestorm that burned almost 1 million acres from Santa Barbara County to the U.S.–Mexico border.

According to a Valmont Industries source, a member of the Steel Market Development Institute Steel Utility Pole Task Group, the project is a continuation of steel for wood replacement in high risk territories. Valmont® Utility, a market leader in transmission, distribution and substation structures and steel distribution pole supplier, is contracted to complete the project.

According to Keith Lindemulder, chairman of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) Steel Utility Pole Task Group. “Increasingly, electric utilities are turning to steel poles to improve system reliability as a viable alternative to wood. This is especially true in areas prone to extreme weather such as high winds, ice storms or fire.”

Steel training is important for every lineworker’s safety preparation for catastrophic events and everyday power maintenance. The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) collaborated with respected industry leaders in utility safety and linework training to develop training materials for students (de-energized training) and journeyman/apprentice linemen (energized training) – including free online training and hands-on workshops. Find more information here


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Dominion Power Replaces Wood Poles with Steel Poles To Improve Reliability in Rural and Remote Areas

Dominion Power steel pole instatllation

Dominion Power’s new steel installation near Gloucester, Virginia is replacing wooden poles.This is a rural area with wet ground / saturated soil and wind.

Dominion Virginia Power/Dominion North Carolina Power provides electricity to more than 2.4 million customers through its local delivery companies in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The utility’s 30,000-square-mile territory has 245 stations which serve as tie points with PJM.

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Kansas Electric Co-Op Builds Distribution Network with a Backbone of Steel

As one of the top three electric co-ops in the state, Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. provides power to members in 16 counties, across about 3,800 square miles, in rural North Central Kansas.

Rolling Hills was formed in 2002 when NCK Electric Cooperative in Belleville, Jewell Mitchell Electric Cooperative in Mankato, and Smoky Hill Electric Cooperative in Ellsworth consolidated. The co-op distribution network includes about 6,383 miles of line, a little over 11,000 meters and 125,000 poles, both steel and wood. Continue reading

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Delmarva Power Initiates Multi-Year Wood-to-Steel Utility Pole Conversion Projects to Withstand Hurricane-Force Winds

Delmarva Power Steel Power Poles

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The use of steel utility poles is gaining ground in the mid-Atlantic states.This is evidenced by Delmarva Power’s continued conversion from wood to steel utility poles over the past few years. Delmarva Power, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), is the electric power provider to more than 506,000 electric delivery customers in Delaware and Maryland and nearly 126,000 natural gas delivery customers in northern Delaware. The utility’s service area covers some 5,000 miles, including a considerable amount of coastline on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, and strong winds are a fact of life. In an effort to update its aging system infrastructure for greater durability, resilience and reliability, Delmarva has initiated a number of key capital projects that are primarily focused on converting aging wooden power poles to safer, more weather-resilient galvanized steel poles.

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Arizona Public Service Uses Steel Utility Poles to Harden Network, Improve Resiliency


Arizona Public Service (APS) is Arizona’s longest-serving and largest electric service company, founded in 1886. The company is responsible for providing electricity to more than 1.2 million retail and residential customers in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties. That number is expected to more than double by 2030. Its reputation is founded on safe, reliable and affordable service.

A key focus in APS’s continued and growing network is to maintain a hardened network, one that is less susceptible to damage from weather or other events; and more resilient, able to recover quickly when major events occur. One way that APS has found to harden its line as well as make it resilient is by replacing downed wood poles with steel poles. Continue reading

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SMDI and Partners Develop Advanced Steel Utility Pole Training Materials for Apprentice and Journeyman Linemen

lineman-workshop-1024x512The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), and its partners—the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction (ISPC) and T&D PowerSkills, LLC—have released new training materials with a focus on energized distribution systems and safe work practices. Continue reading

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