When looking for an easier and more cost-effective way to install overhead distribution poles in off-road locations, Licking Rural Electric Cooperative turned to steel distribution poles as an alternative to wood poles.

The rough terrain in Licking County makes replacing poles difficult. So in 1992, George Manning, executive vice president and CEO of Energy Cooperative, made the decision to try steel poles.

Manning says the steel poles were easier to carry in and install, and they were able to use a tractor to move the poles in. He adds that the linemen did not need any extra installation training.

There is no need to staple a grounding wire to a steel pole, and steel-pole hardware never requires retightening as a result of pole shrinkage.

Steel poles can be customized for embedded or anchor-based installations, which translates into expanded application possibilities. They can be fabricated to support larger and heavier loadings with longer spans and greater height requirements. Also, steel poles have a life span of 60 to 80 years.

Licking County switched to steel for all new construction in 1996. Today, the county has more than 8000 steel poles in place. Manning says that when he takes into account the cost of shipping and installation, his company realizes at least a 1 0 percent savings by using steel poles in lieu of wood poles.