Davey Surgery Co. crews trek the neighborhoods and foothills of northern California annually to perform pole inspections that will prevent reduce the risk of outages for Pacific Gas & Electric customers.
Reliability is key for any utility. But reliability assurance goes beyond right-of-way (ROW) vegetation maintenance, it also includes the condition of a utility’s equipment. Carrying out annual utility pole inspections is one method to ensure service stays reliable for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers.
Every year since 1994, Davey Surgery Co. crews have traversed the neighborhoods of northern California, making sure each utility pole they inspect is up to snuff.
Forty Davey employees work in two-person crews to inspect 80,000 to 100,000 poles for PG&E every year. During the ground inspections, crews are looking for poles that may need to be repaired or replaced.
Crews start with a visual inspection where they keep an eye out for defects, followed by sound inspection with a hammer, which can help determine if there are any internal defects to the pole. Since poles are embedded deep into the ground, they are excavated to a depth of 20 inches to check the base for decay. A bore and probe test is performed last to test the pole’s strength.
Each inspected pole is then treated with wood preservatives, back-filled by hand, and tagged. The data on the pole’s strength tests are reported to PG&E daily.
Davey was able to complete the yearly inspection with an OSHA Total Recordable Incident Rate of 0.0, which indicates there were no recordable incidents in 2020. The safe and accurate work helps PG&E fix potential issues with their poles before they become a liability.
Early detection of pole or equipment failure is imperative for a reduced number of outages. Consistent pole inspections are just one of the tools that PG&E leverages to ensure reliability for their customers.