Composite Poles Solve Easement Issues for Utilities

The presence of a distribution substation often is all a developer will consider when choosing a site in remote areas.

Jan 1st, 2012
Duratel Belleville  6 0 Degre

The presence of a distribution substation often is all a developer will consider when choosing a site in remote areas. While this can simplify power flow, it often leads to distribution networks that are haphazard or unwieldy, with complicated easements and convoluted arrangements as providers of wired services attempt to expand their reach. In cities, distribution substations become increasingly complex with switches for multiple voltages and conductors leading in nearly every direction. While the layout of a more densely populated area might be more convenient for a provider, the distribution networks, with their underbuilds and transformers, end up looking more like the space behind an information technology (IT) desk than an orderly system.

Figure 1: In Illinois, the local utility could not use guy wires at the intersection. As a result, weed poles were utilized with significant deflection.

In any environment, the last thing a line designer, lineman, developer or end user wants is unnecessary guy wiring. One of the most common complaints from customers to utilities and municipalities centers around the pervasiveness of guy wires on or above private land. While utilities frequently require the use of guy wires and additional easements to support poles that serve outside a straight span—such as dead-end poles—or on inclined terrain, advances in composite pole technology can eliminate these unsightly and outdated practices. Composite pole manufacturers such as Duratel, headquartered in Chicago, provide a very good solution because composite poles provide a strength and stability that are unmatched in wood or other materials.

For utility pole or telecommunications mast installers, guy wires are typically made of high-tension, conductive metals. This has several implications. First, even with advances in computational pole and line design, unevenly distributed guy wires might alter how a pole or telecommunications mast sits in the ground, making safety a problematic issue. Second, multiple contact points on a pole for a dead-end application might cause the bolts and insulators to twist and bend within a wood pole, which might alter the stability of that pole and affect its structural performance. This might not affect the pole on installation, but, with a global increase in temperature fluctuations and higher frequency of catastrophic weather events, this is a risk that service providers must carefully weigh. Finally, for wireless telecommunications applications, guy wires have been shown to interfere with radiated signals.

FIgure 2: At this same intersection shown in Figure 1, the utility used a Duratel composite pole because of its strength and eliminated the need for guy wires and deflection.

Guy wires needlessly occupy spaces that could be better used because they frequently require additional easements, support poles or burial and attachment to trees on private property. The granting of easements by landowners, while typically staying with the land regardless of ownership changes, can be complicated and, at the very least, might delay the installation of a line or expansion of service. In the event of an accident or downed pole that affects private property, the pole owner will probably be liable. With recent litigations requiring all grounded poles to be marked, regardless of their proximity to pedestrian or vehicular thoroughfares, guy wires and the issues surrounding them are becoming greater annoyances.

Duratel poles relieve the hindrance of extra guy wires, poles or right-of-way issues because they often can be used in place of multiple poles. Duratel poles are able to attach multiple span wires as angled or dead-end poles without fear of bowing, breaking or uprooting. Their composite profile provides greater shear and tensile strength, which means multiple bolts for span wires will not affect pole performance. In addition, Duratel poles can be installed on steel bases on uneven or rocky terrain without the typical costliness and multiple guy wires.

Figure 3: A Duratel composite pole was used for this dead end in a downtown Boston parking lot. The utility could not use guy wires and previously used wood poles. The poles shown had major deflection and were unsightly. The Duratel pole solved the issue.

In several cases across the country, Duratel poles have provided private landowners with the elimination of excessive guy wires and support poles by simply replacing the dead-end or angle pole and prompting the removal of the excess support systems. Guy wires in residential developments might span roadways or pedestrian walkways and attach to isolated poles that have been installed as supports and serve no other purpose. Not only does this burden the environment, but it aggravates the landowners and costs the installers in supplies, labor and maintenance—all of which are unnecessary.

For one utility serving the city of Edwardsville, Ill., Duratel provided the right approach. The city was installing new sidewalks and the down guy wires were in the path of the new sidewalk. The original configuration had a span guy pole on one side of the 90-degree pole and down guys and anchors on the other side. The city’s original plan was to install an unsightly span guy pole on the other side of the street and relocate the anchors and guy wires. This was unpopular and the utility turned to Duratel for a solution. Duratel’s 14-inch pole profile allowed them to eliminate all the anchors and down guys and delete the installation of an additional pole across a two-lane street, reducing the need for additional easements. The city, neighbors and the utility were delighted with the low-cost solution provided by Duratel.

Figure 4: A Duratel composite pole helped a Midwest utility solve a problem with guy wires and the city it serves. New sidewalks were being installed and the city wanted the utility to eliminate a span guy pole, down guys and anchors. The Duratel 14-inch pole was used—allowing the elimination of all anchors and down guys, and eliminating the installation of an additional pole across a two-lane street.

“We have always been an innovator in the utility pole business,” said Ted Fotos, senior vice president of manufacturing and sales for Duratel. “From the very beginning, our company has constantly sought out methods to improve the old ways of doing business in the utility sector, and even today we are looking forward to what we need to do to be competitive in this ever-changing marketplace. The elimination of land-use issues, safety problems and unsightly guy wires is just another benefit of our composite poles.”

As the world changes, so must providers of wired services. Milder winters mean energy providers will not be able to count on increased heating bills in winter, and increases in volatile storm systems means more money must be put into replacing, maintaining and hardening the grid before excessive costs are conveyed to customers. Duratel’s range of composite infrastructure products provide a good opportunity for utilities, municipalities, CATV and telecommunication companies to save money during installation, and, with composite product lifespans of up to 80 years, continued savings for the next generation.

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