Potomac Edison Launches Utility Pole Recycling Program

Feb. 3, 2022
Old utility poles now collected for reuse instead of landfill disposal.

Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has launched a pole recycling program in its Maryland and West Virginia service territory as part of FirstEnergy's companywide sustainability initiative to recycle and repurpose utility poles.

Potomac Edison will store used utility poles that will be redistributed to other parties — such as farmers, mills, charitable organizations and even employees — for direct reuse. Alternative uses for poles typically include fencing, parking bollards, guide rail posts, landscaping or treated wood construction.

"We are committed to reducing waste and improving our recycling efforts, and this is an exciting opportunity for us to adopt a more environmentally friendly practice and find new uses for secondhand utility poles," said Linda Moss, president of FirstEnergy's Maryland operations. "We look forward to full implementation of this program across Potomac Edison's service territory in 2022."

If a utility pole is no longer fit for use, Potomac Edison will remove any utility hardware from the pole and store it at one of its participating service centers. Each pole, which weighs roughly 50 pounds per cubic foot, must be at least eight feet in length to be part of the reuse program.

When a Potomac Edison service center has collected a full load of approximately 30 poles, the company will work with Blackwood Solutions, a transportation and materials management firm, to pick them up and distribute them for reuse. The poles will be delivered at no cost to interested parties who are willing to accept a full load, can be accessed by tractor trailer and are located within a certain distance from the collection sites.

In the past, Potomac Edison's discarded poles had been cut into smaller pieces and stored on site until a waste management company took them to a landfill for disposal. The program is expected to reduce Potomac Edison's waste stream significantly over time, as most poles weigh between 300 and 4100 pounds. The pole recycling program was first piloted in 2020 at Ohio Edison, a FirstEnergy electric subsidiary in Ohio, and also was launched last year in the company's Mon Power service territory in West Virginia.

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