SaskPower’s Wood Pole Maintenance Program Gets Underway

May 14, 2020

Applying Internal Liquid to a Wood Power Pole for Maintenance

Quotables:

  • With 1.2 million poles and counting, we’re constantly working to prolong their life span.
  • The Wood Pole Maintenance Program is just one way we manage our infrastructure. We’re currently in year eight of our 10-year plan. Our goal is to inspect about 10% of our total wood poles each year.
  • We target certain areas of the province to first inspect the poles and extend their life by doing maintenance. If a pole can’t be repaired, it’s marked for replacement in 2021. We may also reinforce or rebuild entire power lines.

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 Ming Qian, Program Administrator to learn more.

  1. What’s this program all about?

    The Wood Pole Maintenance Program is just one way we manage our infrastructure. We’re currently in year eight of our 10-year plan. Our goal is to inspect about 10% of our total wood poles each year.

    We target certain areas of the province to first inspect the poles and extend their life by doing maintenance. If a pole can’t be repaired, it’s marked for replacement in 2021. We may also reinforce or rebuild entire power lines.

  2. Where’s the work happening this year?

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

    • Rosthern 
      • When: Mid-May to late June
    • Shellbrook
      • When: Late June to mid-August
    • Turtleford
      • When: Early July to mid-August
    • Hudson Bay
      • When: Mid-August to late October
    • Creighton 
      • When: Mid-August to late October
    • La Ronge 
      • When: Mid-August to late October
    • Swift Current
      • When: June to July
    • Weyburn
      • When: July
    • Wynyard
      • When: August to September
    • Yorkton
      • When: August to October
    • Regina
      • When: September to October

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

  3. How has the program changed this year?

    Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve changed aspects of the program. We’re ensuring crews maintain social distancing and follow strict guidelines that limit public interaction.
    Our top priority is the health and safety of our customers and employees, and so while doing essential work, we will:

    • Maintain social distance of 2 metres (no shaking hands), and ask that our customers do the same
    • When we must work closely together, we use face shields as an added precaution
    • Stagger our start/finish times and use smaller crews
    • Follow proper hygiene practices while working
    • Use proper cleaning procedures for our tools and equipment after the work is done

    Our crews are committed to taking the appropriate steps to ensure that everyone is safe and healthy during this program.

  4. What are the benefits of this program?

    There are benefits to our customers and to environment, including:

    • It’s more cost effective to extend the life of a power pole than to replace it
    • Well maintained power poles mean fewer outages
    • Maintaining poles means fewer end up in the landfill and reduces demand on our forests
  5. Why do we use wood for these poles?

    Wood is a great material for power poles because:

    • Power line technicians can climb wood power poles. This makes it easier for them to do maintenance
    • Wood costs less than other kinds of power pole materials like steel and concrete
    • The poles have a small environmental impact since they’re organic
    • Wood poles are strong, and we know how to prevent and treat deterioration

    Deterioration could be from:

    • lighting strikes
    • mechanical damage
    • decay in the wood
    • carpenter ant infestation

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

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