11 Feb 2014

Utility Technology Leaders: Who’s Using Composites?

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Composite materials, such as Fiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP), are steadily gaining acceptance throughout the utility industry. This can be seen in the wide range of electrical utilities adopting composite cross arms and transmission poles as an economically- and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional materials like wood and steel. This post will have a look at just a few the utilities leading the way with composite materials today.

BC Hydro
BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation with a mandate to generate, purchase, distribute and sell electricity in British Columbia.

BC Hydro has a research and development project, in partnership with Transmission Innovations, that’s been running testing over the past few years on composite pole configurations on its system. As a part of these projects BC Hydro has installed approximately 90 of our R-Standard composite poles on lines at various voltages. You can learn more about its R&D efforts and see the installation of a composite H-frame structure in this video:

Installing composite transmission structures has given BC Hydro the spotlight for a number of firsts; including the first polyurethane cross arm for high-voltage lines that does not release any substances into the environment and the first fibre-reinforced polymer H-frame transmission structure in Canada.

Great Lakes Power
Great Lakes Power Transmission is the second largest electricity transmitter in Ontario. It comprises an important component of Ontario’s transmission system that connects generators in northern Ontario to electricity demand in Southern Ontario.

To date, Great Lakes Power has installed approximately 300 R Standard poles for H-frame construction for its 230-kV transmission system.

SaskPower provides electricity to the province of Saskatchewan aiming to be world-leading power company through innovation, performance and service.

With a core value of innovation, SaskPower has been installing new technologies, such as FRP cross arms from us and a fiber reinforced polymer structural liner on the internal surface of the #1 CW supply line at Boundary Dam Power Station.

Avista Utilities
Avista Utilities has worked in renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest since 1889, customers include business, industry, universities, and consumers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and parts of southern and eastern Oregon.

Avista has installed fiberglass cross arms throughout its grid and has found a decrease in the number of service calls, as its previous wood cross arms were its structure most likely to fail.

Colorado Springs Utilities
A municipal four-service utility created and run by the residents of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities provides electricity, natural gas, water and wastewater services with a commitment to responsible environmental practices and hometown customer service.

According to an article on UtilityProducts.com, Colorado Springs Utilities were motivated to move towards composite materials after a series of wood pole fires caused a major capacity issue, driving them to research and implement a solution that would prevent this type of failure. In this process, they discovered fiberglass cross arms and are currently replacing all their existing wood cross arms with this composite material. Moving forward, all new construction will install fiberglass cross arms as well.

Pepco delivers electric service to more than 793,000 customers in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Pepco is upgrading its electric system to make it more reliable for its customers. Since September 2010, it has trimmed thousands of miles of trees, replaced or refurbished hundreds of miles of cable, upgraded equipment and installed advanced technology – all to improve the reliability of its service as storms become more frequent and severe.

As part of this project, the company is switching from wood cross arms to fiberglass cross arms, and making other upgrades above and below ground throughout its system. So far, Pepco has installed 9,931 fiberglass crossarms.

And more…
This is just a sampling of the companies adopting FRP, or fiberglass, cross arms and transmission structures. A few other electrical utilities adopting FRP and composite material include:

  • Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc.
  • AltaLink
  • Black Hills Corporation
  • Somerset Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Why not try FRP in your next transmission project?

Are you using composites in your electrical infrastructure? Tweet us at @FRP_TI and we’ll include you in our next feature.
If you’re interested in the FRP products manufactured by Transmission Innovations, check out our products page or contact us for an expert consultation.