As part of its reconductoring and system improvement plan, Corn Belt Power Cooperative is setting new poles across its service territory and they’re not the typical wood poles.
Those in the Wellsburg and Dinsdale areas may notice crews working on a 27-mile project where crews are reconductoring and setting new ductile iron poles. Ductile iron is what it sounds like – metal poles. As Jeremy Stattelman, transmission superintendent, puts it, these poles are resistant to half of the reasons Corn Belt Power would ever have an outage.
“These poles are resistant to rotting, insects, fires and much more,” Stattelman said. “They are certainly much stronger than wood and have a service life of more than 75 years.”
The use of ductile iron comes down to cost and availability.
“Our wood suppliers are having a more difficult time supplying the market with 65-foot poles,” Stattelman said. “It comes down to harvesting the wood needed to produce the poles and with wildfires and dry weather in the west there's a demand shortage. A lot of the jobs we do come down to the size of the job and what we need material-wise. If the numbers work out, in a lot of cases ductile iron will not only enhance reliability but also keep a lid on cost.”
Corn Belt Power recently received a shipment of ductile iron poles. Poles that are 70-feet tall and shorter, come as one piece. Poles taller than 70-feet, come in two pieces.
Ductile iron doesn’t just add to reliability, it's also environmentally friendly.
“The poles are made of 96-percent recycled steel,” Stattelman said. “They come from things like recycled cars, car parts, washers, dryers, etc. At the end of their life, they’re taken back to the factory, melted down and made into an entirely new pole.”
If enhancing reliability, lowering cost and being environmentally friendly weren’t enough, the poles are also safer.
“These poles weigh about 45-percent less than wood,” Stattelman said. “They’re safer to transport and safer for our crews to install.”
The poles are being installed on a 27-mile stretch of line in the Wellsburg and Dinsdale area. Currently, crews are about halfway finished with the job.