5 Questions with Ming Qian on our 2017 Wood Pole Maintenance Program

May 01, 2017

Ming Qian Featured
At 1.2 million and counting, there are more power poles in Saskatchewan than people. Because most poles are made of wood and were installed in the 1950s, we're kept on our toes continually repairing and replacing the poles all around the province.

To tackle this huge job, we've created the Distribution Wood Pole Maintenance Program at SaskPower. Project Administrator Ming Qian fills us in on the details.
  1. What is this program all about?

    The Distribution Wood Pole Maintenance Program is one of the many ways we're managing our infrastructure. We have a 10-year plan with the goal of inspecting about 10 per cent of our total wood poles each year. To do that, we target specific areas of the province and spend some time inspecting and extending the life of the poles in that area. We follow that up with targeted replacement, reinforcement or line rebuilds in subsequent years.

  2. Where is the program happening this year?

    We've hired Central Pole Inspection & Maintenance Inc. to perform the inspections and life extensions this year. They'll be working in:

    - The Davidson area from May - July
    - Rural areas around Regina from May to late June and July to August
    - The Strasbourg area from late June to late July
    - The south and northeast neighbourhoods of Regina in July and August
    - The Moosomin area from late August to October

    This work can be affected by weather and crop conditions, so the schedule may change by a couple of weeks.

  3. What are some of the benefits of this program to customers and the environment?

    Over 40 per cent of our customer's monthly bills go towards renewing our aging infrastructure, so it's important that we work efficiently. Extending the life of a power pole is much cheaper than replacing it.

    As for the environment, since this program extends the life of our wooden power poles, it lowers the stress on our forests. It also reduces the number of damaged poles that end up in landfills.

  4. Why do we use wood for these poles?

    There are a few reasons why wood is a great material for power poles:

    - Power line technicians can climb wood poles to service them.
    - Wood costs less than other kinds of power pole material (such as steel and concrete).
    - Wood is sturdy and predictable.
    - The poles have a small environmental impact since they are organic and can be recycled.

  5. What are some of the signs that a pole is at risk?

    Obvious red flags are poles that have extensive mechanical damage and poles split from lighting strikes. But we're also looking for signs of decay in the wood, carpenter ant infestation and crossarms in poor condition. Where we can, we repair or reinforce the pole to extend its life and keep it in service. If we can't repair or reinforce it, the pole will be replaced.

 

Quotables:

"We have a 10-year plan with the goal of inspecting about 10 per cent of our total wood poles each year."

"Over 40 per cent of our customer's monthly bills go towards renewing our aging infrastructure, so it's important that we work efficiently."

"Where we can, we repair or reinforce the pole to extend its life and keep it in service. If we can't repair or reinforce it, the pole will be replaced."

 

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