5 Questions with Ming Qian on our 2019 Wood Pole Maintenance Program

April 29, 2019

Ming Qian

Quotables:

  • "The Wood Pole Maintenance Program is one way we manage our infrastructure. We're currently in year 7 of our 10-year plan."
  • "We'll repair or reinforce the pole if we can to keep it in service. But if we can't do that, we'll replace it.”

Did you know Saskatchewan has more power poles than people?!

With 1.2 million poles and counting, we're constantly working to prolong their life span. Since most of our poles are wood and over 35% of them were installed in the 1950's and 1960’s, they need regular maintenance. That's why we have the Wood Pole Maintenance Program. We sat down with Project Administrator, Ming Qian to find out what the process is about.

  1. What’s this program all about?

    The Wood Pole Maintenance Program is one way we manage our infrastructure. We're currently in year 7 of our 10-year plan. That mean's our goal is to inspect about 10% of our total wood poles each year.

    We first target certain areas of the province to first inspect the poles and extend their life. We follow that up in following years with targeted:

    • replacement
    • reinforcement
    • line rebuilds
  2. Where’s the program happening this year?

    We've hired Central Pole Inspection & Maintenance Inc. to perform the maintenance work this year. They’ll be working in:

    • Unity and area -- May 6 to July 31
      • Includes: Wilkie, Landis, Macklin
    • Kipling and area -- May 6 to July 31
      • Includes: Whitewood, Grenfell, Broadview
    • Moose Jaw City – August 1 to 31
    • Lumsden and area – August 1 to 31
      • Includes: Regina Beach, Chamberlain & Bethune
    • Prince Albert City – August 1 to Sept. 15
    • Nipawin and area – Sept. 15 to October
    • Includes: Cumberland House & Carrot River

    Depending on the weather and crop conditions the schedule may change.

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

    It's much more cost effective to extend the life of a power pole rather then replacing it. This lowers the stress on our forests and helps to make sure they don’t end up in the landfill.

  4. Why do we use wood for these poles?

    Wood is a great material for power poles because:

    • Power line technicians can climb them. This makes it easy for them to do maintenance.
    • Wood costs less than other kinds of power pole materials (like steel and concrete). 
    • Wood poles are strong, and we know how to prevent deterioration.
    • The poles have a small environmental impact since they are organic.
  5. What are some of the signs that a pole is at risk?

    Red flags would be if the pole's split from lighting strikes or have mechanical damage. But we also look for:

    • decay in the wood
    • carpenter ant infestation

    We'll repair or reinforce the pole if we can to keep it in service. But if we can't do that, we'll replace it.

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