2018 Wood Pole Plant Management Award Winners

Each year, Osmose recognizes pole owners with outstanding pole inspection and treatment programs and practices with its Wood Pole Plant Management Awards.  A panel of judges considers several program characteristics when evaluating programs. These include, but are not limited to the type of inspection program, the use of remedial preservatives to arrest decay and extend pole life, additional services performed to maximize the visit to the pole, restoration methods being used to rehabilitate or upgrade poles rather than replace them, and the use of strength and loading evaluations to more accurately determine remaining strength and reject status.

"The Wood Pole Plant Management Awards recognize pole owners who have successfully implemented wood pole inspection and treatment programs that contribute to positive financial, structural reliability, and operational outcomes, including effective risk management and enhanced safety," said Nelson Bingel, NESC Chairman. "These utilities have model programs that not only meet, but exceed regulatory mandates while providing benchmarks for the industry as a whole."

The three award-winning companies for 2018 are:  Pedernales Electric Cooperative (Texas) and Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative (Texas) in the best-in-class cooperative category, and the award for the program with the most significant transformation was presented to Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative (Texas).


Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Pedernales Electric Cooperative is the largest electric cooperative in the country serving more than 300,000 active accounts across central Texas.  They have a best-in-class comprehensive program that includes inspection of all wood poles on a 10-year cycle with both internal and external preservative treatments being used to extend pole life.  Pedernales will save over $11 million in future replacement costs.  Over 90% of all poles inspected in their last inspection cycle received a remedial treatment.  Poles identified as rejects during inspection are evaluated for restoration.  Those that can be rehabilitated are restored to code-mandated strength for substantially less than the cost of pole replacement, saving Pedernales almost $1 million annually.  Non-restorable rejects are categorized and replaced through a dedicated pole replacement program.  Because the preservative treatments and restoration processes provide a documented life extension benefit to the pole, Pedernales capitalizes over 80% of the program costs.


Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative

Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative may be a smaller cooperative utility at just over 50,000 members, but they are another Texas utility that has implemented an exemplary wood pole inspection and treatment program.  Trinity Valley has maintained a 10-year inspection cycle for the last 14 years, dropping their reject rate by over two percent in the first two years of their second cycle.  Their current reject rate is only 2.5%.  The program includes a full groundline inspection utilizing both internal and external preservative treatments to extend the pole life.  Over 85% of the poles inspected during their most recent cycle received a remedial treatment.  Restorable rejects are trussed, restoring them to code-mandated strength for substantially less than the cost of replacement.  Trinity Valley will save over $3 million by treating and restoring decayed poles.  They also leverage the visit to the pole by having technicians attend to minor maintenance items including installation of guy markers, groundwire repair as well as conducting an attachment survey and collecting GPS points.


Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative maintains their inspection cycle at the recommended 10 years.  The condition-based program includes a partial excavation with both internal and external preservative treatments applied to serviceable poles with decay.  Bluebonnet will see over $3 million in future savings by treating these decayed but serviceable poles.  Defective poles identified as restorable candidates are restored to code-mandated strength with the installation of a steel truss at a fraction of the cost of replacement, saving the utility over $600,000 in 2018 and significantly improving system resiliency.  Defective poles that are not candidates for restoration with a truss are replaced.  As part of their inspection program, Bluebonnet also installs pole tags, takes digital images of reject poles, and repairs broken groundwires, significantly reducing the need for multiple trips to the pole.  Bluebonnet capitalizes approximately 90% of their program based on the well-documented life extension benefits of pole treatment.  The cooperative is one of the largest in Texas.

Best-in-class wood pole programs typically result in lower-than-average reject rates over multiple treatment cycles, reduced costs to mitigate at-risk poles, lower replacement volumes, and improved structural reliability, safety, and resiliency of the pole plant.

For questions regarding best-in-class pole management practices, please contact your local Osmose representative or email [email protected].