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The steel utility pole is an engineered product. It is designed to American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) criteria, National Electric Safety Code (NESC) minimum load requirements, and uses material and manufacturing to ASTM International specifications and welding to American Welding Society (AWS) specifications. The result is an extremely strong and reliable product with uniform dimensions and strength, but without twists, knots, splits or bows.
Through design, a steel pole is a lighter product — at least 30 percent lighter than wood. Lighter weight can reduce the cost of transportation, handling and construction. It also simplifies remote location installations.
A steel power delivery system requires little maintenance. There's minimal need for tightening hardware to compensate for pole shrinkage. Steel has proven to retain its strength and shape over many years.
Inspections for damage caused by rot, insects or woodpeckers are eliminated with steel poles. They are impermeable to these forces of nature.
Plus, steel poles can be factory pre-drilled, which minimizes the time spent by construction crews preparing poles for installation.
Steel poles offer flexibility. Steel installations offer an economical alternative for guying and strength problems at angles and dead ends.
There's safety in steel. With minimal maintenance and inspection, steel poles can reduce workers' risk of accidents. Also, steel poles are conductive so there is no need to install the full-length copper ground wire typically required for wood. Steel utility poles are safe to install or maintain under hot line or energized working conditions. No matter if the pole is wood or steel, proper procedure is essential when working with live lines.
Also, steel poles provide safety when impacted by a vehicle. While wood poles tend to shear, steel poles will typically bend when impacted, keeping the energized lines upright and away from the vehicle.
And because steel will not burn, ground and pole-top fires are not an issue.
© 2015 American Iron and Steel Institute