Power poles proliferate on the Prairies, doing a job that is generally taken for granted.
Holding up those vital electrical lines that service farms, businesses, cities and towns, they require their own maintenance so they can keep doing their upright jobs.
SaskPower, the electrical provider in Saskatchewan, said it plans to inspect 112,000 wooden power poles this year. This year’s Distribution Wood Pole Maintenance Program will cost an estimated $4.5 million. More than 40 percent of SaskPower customers’ monthly bill goes toward renewing the aging infrastructure.
“There are 1.2 million wood poles throughout Saskatchewan, which is more than the number of people in the province. There’s more than a power pole for every person that lives here, so this is something that we take pretty seriously,” said Jordan Jackle, SaskPower’s consultant for media relations and issues management.
This is year six of a 10-year rotation to inspect all poles in the province. This year SaskPower has sub-contracted Central Pole Inspection and Maintenance Inc. to do the job.
That firm is expected to check 27,000 poles in the Saskatoon, Martensville, Dalmeny and Warman areas, 42,000 poles in Weyburn and area, 18,000 poles in Preeceville, Sturgis and Norquay areas, 18,000 around Meadow Lake and the rest in Saskatoon.
SaskPower said it costs about $2,500 to replace a pole, so extending the life of existing ones is cost effective at $50 each for testing and maintenance.
Added Jackle: “Also just giving a quick once over to really identify the general status of the power pole. Is the cross arm in good condition, how is the equipment up there looking, and that sort of thing … a quick status check, if you will.”
Jackle said crews generally stay within the right of ways but are expected to check with landowners if they need to access private property.
ATCO Electric, one of Alberta’s electrical providers, services areas east of Edmonton, east and south of Calgary and in the region surrounding Fort McMurray. The company says it has more than 700,000 poles in service.