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Annual pole inspections to begin in southern area

St. Croix Electric Cooperative members in the towns of Troy, Kinnickinnic, Pleasant Valley, Rush River, Eau Galle and Gilman over the next month-and-a-half might spot an unfamiliar 4-wheeler or truck on or near their property as Jeff White of Utili-Tech Solutions inspects approximately 1,796 poles served by the Troy, Glenmont, Woodville and Martell substations.

Crew members for all SCEC contractors are in vehicles marked with “Contractor For” vehicle magnets that display the SCEC logo. Additionally, each member of the crew is provided with an “Approved Contractor” badge from SCEC, which includes their name and photo.

White will be working through early September, frequently on a four-wheeler driving in the right-of-way areas under overhead power lines. A pole inspection begins as soon as he can see the next pole.

“I look up to see if there’s anything wrong with the hardware - anything that might help the Co-op out,” he said.

Once at the pole, White hits it with a hammer, listening for hollow spots. Next, he drills a small hole toward the base of the pole looking for hollow spots or signs of decay, such as darker or wet shavings. This helps measure the strength of the pole. He fills the hole with a preservative, then plugs the hole. If the pole passes inspection, he attaches a date tag to the pole with the year of inspection on it. A handheld GPS device allows him to enter information about each pole, including any visual defects he may have noticed.

Questions or concerns regarding the pole inspection should be directed to Line Superintendent Rob Dooley at 715-796-5637. 

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