Steel Poles to Stand Tall Against Fire Storms in SDGE Installation in National Forest
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has initiated a five year, $600 million public safety fire hardening project that will replace 150 miles of overhead power poles and transmission lines in the Cleveland National Forest—the largest such project in SDG&E history.
As part of the project, nearly 2,000 wooden poles will be replaced with taller, longer lasting, fire-resistant steel poles that are capable of withstanding winds up to 85 miles per hour.
SDG&E officials say the new poles will be capable of carrying thicker lines that will be spread farther apart, minimizing the chance of sparking during high winds or other significant weather events. Specifically, the steel poles will help minimize the chance of massive wildfires such as the events that occurred in 2007 California Firestorm that burned almost 1 million acres from Santa Barbara County to the U.S.–Mexico border.
According to a Valmont Industries source, a member of the Steel Market Development Institute Steel Utility Pole Task Group, the project is a continuation of steel for wood replacement in high risk territories. Valmont® Utility, a market leader in transmission, distribution and substation structures and steel distribution pole supplier, is contracted to complete the project.
According to Keith Lindemulder, chairman of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) Steel Utility Pole Task Group. “Increasingly, electric utilities are turning to steel poles to improve system reliability as a viable alternative to wood. This is especially true in areas prone to extreme weather such as high winds, ice storms or fire.”
Steel training is important for every lineworker’s safety preparation for catastrophic events and everyday power maintenance. The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) collaborated with respected industry leaders in utility safety and linework training to develop training materials for students (de-energized training) and journeyman/apprentice linemen (energized training) – including free online training and hands-on workshops.