Power official responds to steel pole controversy

At Thursday’s Logan Planning Commission meeting there will be no action on a request to grant a permit for installation of power polls that have already been installed on 100 east because city Light and Power Director Jeff White will be out of town and unable to attend the meeting. There has been concern White did not seek approval to use large steel transmission poles for the 100 east widening project because he believed their installation fell into the description of “maintenance.” Also, many residents including Municipal Council member Laraine Swenson call the poles “ugly.” Tuesday Craig Hislop talked with Steve Crosby, Light and Power Department’s distribution manager:

<strong>Let’s talk about what has become so controversial. Why even consider steel poles in the first place?</strong>

“They are an effective way to construct new transmission lines. I’ve been in the power business, construction business, for 31 years. These steel transmission poles will last for 150 years. A western red cedar pole will last anywhere between 50 and 70 years, defending on soil conditions.”

<strong>What is the difference in cost?</strong>

“There has been a lot of controversy in the past about cutting down trees and that drives the cost of wood poles quite high. Also, steel prices have dropped to the point those poles have become very affordable for use in reconstruction. Tangent poles, like you see on the first east project, cost $2,861 each. The wood pole equivalent in a western red cedar, is $4,442 each. “Installing steel poles, we backfill with concrete, and the stability of those poles will withstand all the elements, high winds and so forth. We hope we never experience an earthquake, but I’m sure we have good earthquake protection in our transmission system by installing those. “Certainly, we’ve had our share of car-hitting-pole scenarios around the valley. In fact, one of the first ones we replaced in that end of town was the one on Canyon Road, which was hit by a drunk driver. We kept track of the cost of repairs on that one, because we need to keep the power on all the time. It’s dangerous, tedious work replacing one of those. It was about $18,000. We came to find out the drunk driver didn’t have insurance coverage, so Logan taxpayers end up having to pay for those type of incidents.”

<strong>Were the new steel transmission poles installed without permission?</strong>

“When we originally proposed to build the new sub-seven out on 1800 North, 850 West, we included the new power lines we were going to have to construct coming from sub-seven across to sub-five. And then a double-circuit piece of line from tenth north to sixth north, along sixth west. We also included, because it was new alignment, a new power line to be constructed along the railroad track on down to third south, down to our systems operation control center, also the location of our 15-megawatt gas generation. It was planned to move those poles off of sixth west so they weren’t subjected to car collisions.”

<strong>Was it understood anything going up there would be steel poles?</strong>

“Yes. That’s the way we proposed it in our application to the planning commission. It was all approved to be steel poles. Our only question was whether it was to be galvanized steel or the core-10 weathering steel, which takes on a rust appearance. We went back to the commission and asked which type of pole they wanted; we were told to use the galvanized pole. “In their defense, they didn’t assume we were going to be rebuilding the entire transmission system, as it was needed. We assumed because the transmission line is in that location, we wouldn’t need to re-permit an existing transmission line to do our system maintenance As poles wore out, our intention was to keep replacing them with the 150-year steel poles so that our grandkids and their children won’t have to re-address this issue.”

<strong>We have been told the installation of six or seven steel poles will address an area where now there are over 40 wood poles. Is that true?</strong>

“Yes. On the transmission line coming out of sub-three – we had to do a lot of repairs at sub-three which is at the northeast corner of Pioneer Park – so we have the pole line coming out of there to first east, traveling along first east over to third south. When the road widening happened there, from third south going south toward the river, our power line was in the new alignment of the road. They (UDOT) wanted us to move the overhead line back against the homes behind the sidewalk. Our light department took a more active role in it. We said, that piece of line is not transmission line it’s heavy distribution line. We will pay the difference to have it put underground. We went in, put all new underground lines along there and cleaned it up. “Now, going back toward the north along first east we found some of those existing poles were rotten. We re-surveyed the transmission lines and put the new pole locations on property lines, rather than out in front of windows and so forth. There were a lot of distribution poles in between spans that we were able to eliminate. From first south to sixth south we took 42 poles down and we went back with seven steel transmission poles and about two and a half blocks of new underground. We feel we really cleaned the area up; our intention is never to trash a neighborhood.”

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