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.

One of the first projects was the $10 million rebuild of a high-voltage transmission line in Ocean City, Maryland. Completed in 2014, the project included the replacement of 90 40-year-old wooden poles with galvanized steel poles. The corrosion-resistant steel poles require less maintenance and are able to withstand up to 120 mph winds.Delmarva Power Steel Utility Poles

Delmarva Power is currently upgrading its electric power transmission line between Berlin and West Ocean City, Maryland. The upgrade includes the replacement of 143 wooden utility poles with steel structures along roughly 7.5 miles of the transmission line.

According to American Galvanizers Association Marketing Director Melissa Lindsley, galvanized steel offers significant benefits to utilities with coastal installations: “Galvanized steel has a long, proven history of corrosion protection for transmission and substation structures in some of the harshest environments. Hot-dip galvanized steel develops a protective zinc patina which allows the poles to resist corrosion for more than 50 years, even in a coastal environment, so hardening a distribution system with galvanized steel poles makes sense.”

Managers at the mid-Atlantic utility company also plan to rebuild a high-voltage transmission line between its substations in Salisbury and Berlin, Maryland. The $25 million project will include the replacement of 360 wood poles with steel poles along a 24-mile, 69 kilovolt(kV) power line. Work on this project has just begun and will be completed in May 2017.

Delmarva Power also set aside approximately $29.6 million to rebuild 25.5-miles of a 138-kilovolt transmission line in Queen Anne’s and Caroline counties in Maryland. The project will replace 182 60-year-old wooden poles with steel poles. Work began in February 2016 and is scheduled for completion in June 2017.

According to the Steel Market Development Institute, utility companies like Delmarva Power are increasingly relying on steel utility poles to harden the line for a strong and resilient overhead distribution system that delivers electricity to its customers through wind, snow, sleet, fire and rain.


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