A large utility company
in the United States, serving more than 5 million customer accounts in the
southeast, determined that with the frequency of severe storms and hurricanes in the area, providing reliable, uninterrupted power to the community was crucial.
Following the unprecedented hurricane seasons of 2004-2005, the utility company began
strengthening the electric grid serving many of the top critical facilities in
the area. They expanded these efforts to include important thoroughfares to help
communities return to “normalcy” faster. In these areas, the utility company reinforced
existing utility poles with stronger wood or concrete poles, some of which
stand 55-feet tall and weigh more than 8,000 pounds. Stronger poles are
expected to improve restoration time as setting new poles takes much more time
than replacing downed wires.
In order to strengthen the power grid and help prepare for future hurricane
seasons, they decided to install new poles throughout the state to better
service its customers. Beginning in
2019, the utility company began replacing several thousand outdated power poles throughout the
state of Florida in both rural and urban settings.
In rural areas, holes were excavated by standard auger methods. In
developed areas, standard auger methods were too risky. The potential for damage
to fiber optic lines, cables and other utilities was too great. For those
locations, the utility company began employing vacuum excavation. Vacuum excavation is much
quicker than hand digging, and, with respect to protecting utilities, a much
safer alternative than auger methods. For peak efficiency, separate vacuum
excavating crews are sent days in advance of the more costly power pole setting
such, a casing was needed to ensure the integrity of each hole for up to several
days. Of all readily available construction casing materials, CORLIX
pipe provided the best solution. CORLIX® pipe is a corrugated aluminum
pipe manufactured by Contech Engineered Solutions. A CORLIX
solution proved to be moderately priced, stiff enough to sustain the excavated
hole wall, and lightweight for easy handling and hand placing by two-man crews.