Wood Pole Inspection and Replacement Program Continues at Potomac Edison to Enhance Service Reliability

Potomac Edison

WILLIAMSPORT, Md., Nov. 10, 2016 -- Potomac Edison, a FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) utility, has inspected more than 21,000 wooden utility poles this year for signs of wear, insect infestation or damage from motor vehicle accidents as part of the company's annual inspection program.  As a result of the inspections, the company expects to replace or repair about 520 wooden utility poles this year, which would stretch about four miles if laid end to end.

A standard 40-foot wooden distribution pole typically is expected to last more than 50 years.  The most common utility pole is made from a Southern Yellow Pine tree and costs about $400. Potomac Edison will spend about $2 million to inspect, replace and repair utility poles in 2016.

"Potomac Edison's pole inspection and replacement program is designed to help enhance service reliability for our customers," said James A. Sears, Jr., vice president of Potomac Edison.  "While certainly durable, these poles are subject to damage from severe weather, falling trees, and traffic accidents.  Potomac Edison's utility poles are vital to the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses in our service area.  Over time, some poles need to be replaced or repaired to help ensure reliable operations."

Typically, specialized contractors perform the pole inspections.  As part of the process, a visual inspection is completed, along with checking the pole to determine if the interior is sound.  Poles also can be reinforced rather than replaced.  One of the most common reinforcement techniques is to snug a C-shaped steel beam against the pole, jackhammer the beam into the ground, and secure it to the pole with tight, metal bands.

All wood poles in Potomac Edison's service territory are inspected on a 10-year cycle in Maryland, and on a 12-year cycle in West Virginia.  Inspections began in January and continued through the summer, with pole replacements and repairs scheduled to be completed during the fall.

Year-to-date, Potomac Edison has inspected more than 21,000 wooden poles in and around the following communities:

  • Augusta – 1,191
  • Berkeley Springs – 1,066
  • Cumberland – 1,494
  • Frederick – 2,826
  • Fort Ashby – 1,192
  • Martinsburg – 6,294
  • Mt. Airy – 2,005
  • Petersburg – 1,921
  • Thurmont – 173
  • Williamsport – 2,951


Potomac Edison serves about 257,000 customers in seven Maryland counties and 137,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.  Follow Potomac Edison on Twitter @PotomacEdison.

FirstEnergy is dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence.  Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York.  The company's transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow on Twitter at @FirstEnergyCorp.

CONTACT: FirstEnergy Corp., 10802 Bower Avenue, Williamsport, Md. 21795, www.firstenergycorp.com; News Media Contact: Todd Meyers, (724) 838-6650

Last Modified: July 19, 2017