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The 2016 Pole Plant Management Award


    When you look at wooden utility poles around your neighborhood, you may notice round, silver tags nailed into them. These tags are a sign of Lakeland Electric’s preventative storm hardening efforts serviced through Osmose, a renowned, U.S. industry leader in pole inspections. Osmose has been in partnership with Lakeland Electric for over 20 years!

    Taking the time to look at every pole may seem time consuming, but it has proven its worth tenfold. According to John McMurray, Assistant General Manager of Delivery, a wooden distribution pole has an average life span of about 40 years. “Extending pole life defers costs which aids in our model for operating more efficiently,” McMurray said. Through this partnership, Lakeland Electric works to keep its rates down, essentially, saving customers money and improving system reliability. Ronnie Thompson, a seasoned Engineering Technician, agreed that putting in the effort up front is highly beneficial. “It makes sense; you feel good if you’ve got a hurricane coming. You know your poles are going to withstand the storm.” 

    In an eight-year rotation, all 60,000 of Lakeland Electric’s wooden distribution poles will go through a series of integrity inspections. The main aspects of the inspection process are done by crews of diggers, inspectors, and treaters. Around the base of each pole, an 18-inch hole is dug to perform a routine check for decay. Once exposed, the pine poles are treated with a paste that extends their working lives up to ten years. Other inspections performed include sound tests and drilling to check for decay that is invisible to the inspector’s eye. Both external shell decay and internal decay can be treated by Osmose. Once inspected, poles are determined “good” or “reject.” Osmose gathers and processes this information and delivers it to Lakeland Electric.  From here, Lakeland Electric Engineers and Engineering Technicians can determine which poles need to be replaced and which poles are reliable enough to continue servicing customers. 

    This year, Osmose awarded Lakeland Electric with the 2016 Pole Plant Management Award in the Municipal Utility category. This award was presented to Lakeland Electric for their low reject rate and routine attention directed to their electric grid. Following the last inspection year, Osmose concluded that Lakeland Electric had a ground line reject rate of just 1.25 percent. This low number of reject poles means Lakeland Electric is using Osmose’s information to save money which benefits the customers. Lakeland Electric is taking all the necessary measures to stay on top of the quality of their infrastructure. It is a great honor to be recognized by Osmose. Morris Willett, Supervisor of Maintenance Services and Engineering, is very proud of this achievement. “We’ve never really won an award like this before,” he said.

    Going forward, Lakeland Electric will continue to work with Osmose. By partnering with Osmose, Lakeland Electric can continue providing affordable, dependable, and sustainable electricity for its customers.

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