Using sound and visual inspection methods, DRG assessed utility poles to help Southeastern Electric Cooperative prioritize pole replacements throughout their system.
Last year, the average American home experienced more than eight hours without power, more than double the outage time five years ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. With outages becoming more frequent, utility reliability has become more important than ever. But there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to utility reliability. The condition of the pole, the condition of the equipment on the pole, and how the pole is loaded are all critical factors in determining potential outages.
Because of this, keeping an accurate record of conditions and attachments is of utmost importance to utilities. Accurate inventory data and inspection results can help utilities stay ahead of potential outages and keep their service reliable.
Southeastern Electric Cooperative conducts annual pole inspections to take note of the status of their system’s poles. Pleased with a previous system inventory done by Davey Resource Group, Inc. (DRG) that was used to create a connectivity model that the utility will use for years to come, Southeastern called on the existing relationship to conduct a pole inspection.
The DRG crew used a common method, the visual and sound inspection, to determine the condition of Southeastern’s poles. Sound and vision inspections combine visual inspections with a non-invasive method to determine decay in a utility pole. Using a special hammer, a crew member listens to the sounds created by tapping on the pole. The sounds determine if there is any decay.
The crew began the inspections in January 2022 on 5,000 poles in Atoka, OK. Out of the 5,000 poles, 346 were considered rejections. Eleven of the rejected poles were considered non-restorable priorities, while 335 were considered non-restorable. The rejected poles were slated for replacement.
DRG completed the inspections in February 2022, quicker than expected and under budget. Southeastern was pleased with the inspection and how easily DRG was able to work with their preferred software to input inspection data.
With this data, Southeastern prioritized pole replacements, decreasing the chance of equipment damage and, in turn, decreasing the rate of outages.