Steel Utility Distribution Poles

There are approximately 185 million utility poles in North America. More than two million are replaced annually.

SMDI and its steel pole manufacturer partners are working together to promote the benefits of steel distribution poles to utility company management and linemen. Through these efforts, presentations have taken place at several companies, and training materials and workshops for linemen have been developed and implemented nationwide. In 1997, steel distribution poles were not widely used among electric utilities. Today, more than 600 electric utility companies in the U.S. are using steel poles, with some converting their entire distribution system to steel.

Why do these companies prefer steel? Steel distribution poles are strong and durable. They are impervious to insects and rot, and are 100 percent recyclable at the end of their long service lives. Unlike traditional wooden poles, steel poles do not need toxic chemical preservative treatments and do not create future hazardous waste disposal concerns.

Steel distribution poles are fabricated with uniform dimensions from ASTM tolerance materials, providing superior strength, consistent performance, and enhanced reliability. Steel poles also have the flexibility to be designed as direct wood pole replacements, or can be engineered to meet any specific loading criteria. To prevent corrosion, steel distribution poles can be galvanized or manufactured with weathering steel. 

Steel distribution poles are a good investment because they can increase the reliability of a utility's distribution system. They also offer lower overall life cycle costs. 

Linemen prefer steel poles because they are light in weight, easy to install, and require less maintenance. For live-line maintenance, steel poles pose no greater threat to utility linemen than other materials. The exact same safety precautions must be followed when using steel, wood or any other material. SMDI provides "hot line" training sessions for utility linemen and management. 

SMDI representatives are available to discuss the benefits of steel poles with utility company management, engineering operations personnel, and linemen. For more information, contact Dan Snyder.   

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