To help enhance the reliability of its system, Metropolitan Edison Co., a FirstEnergy Corp. utility, has inspected more than 16,400 wooden utility poles this year for signs of wear, insect infestation or damage from motor vehicle accidents as part of the company's annual inspection program. As a result of the inspections, the company expects to replace or repair nearly 100 wooden utility poles this year, which would stretch nearly a mile if laid end to end.
A standard 40-foot wooden distribution pole typically is expected to last more than 50 years. The most common utility pole is made from a Southern Yellow Pine tree and costs about $400.
"Met-Ed's pole inspection and replacement program is designed to help enhance service reliability for our customers," said Ed Shuttleworth, regional president, Met-Ed. "While certainly durable, these poles are subject to damage from severe weather, falling trees, and traffic accidents. Met-Ed's 342,000 utility poles are vital to the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses in our service area. Over time, some poles need to be replaced or repaired to help ensure reliable operations."
Typically, specialized contractors perform the pole inspections. As part of the process, a visual inspection is completed, along with checking the pole to determine if the interior is sound. Poles also can be reinforced rather than replaced. One of the most common reinforcement techniques is to snug a C-shaped steel beam against the pole, jackhammer the beam into the ground, and secure it to the pole with tight, metal bands.
All wood poles throughout the 15-county Met-Ed service territory are inspected on a 12-year cycle. Inspections began in January and continued through summer, with the remaining pole replacements and repairs scheduled to be completed during the fall.
Year-to-date, Met-Ed has inspected more than 16,400 wooden poles in and around the following communities:
- Easton – 775
- Gettysburg – 529
- Hanover – 280
- Lebanon – 2,563
- Reading – 541
- York – 9,035
- Stroudsburg – 2,708
Met-Ed serves approximately 560,000 customers in 15 Pennsylvania counties.