Davey Resource Group crews work in Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana to remove hazardous two-pole conditions.
When utility poles need to be taken out of commission because of age, decomposition, or other damage, pole owners sometimes run into the issue of double wood. Double wood refers to locations where an out-of-use utility pole remains in position next to where a new replacement pole was installed.
Double wood can occur for a number of reasons, for instance a pole slated for removal may not have been taken down because of an incomplete line transfer. If left unaddressed, double wood can be a hazard for attachers and pole owners. Risks of old poles falling can create a liability for the newly installed poles and the public. Most local governments and the public often also see them as a blot on the landscape. For these reasons, it’s best practice for a utility to remove double wood as soon as possible.
A Midwestern utility has been undergoing a substation optimization program since 2022 to harden and upgrade their system, which includes a double wood removal plan. Recently, the utility has expanded the double wood removal program to include all of their service areas in Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana and needed a qualified service provider who could deliver across this large footprint.
Davey has worked with the utility on various projects since the early 2000s, including utility line clearance performed by Davey Tree crews and the initial design of a double wood program by Davey Resource Group (DRG) in 2009. In 2011, DRG revamped the utility’s doublewood program to optimize data collection and deliverable creation for the client. In its inception, DRG was using field computers and their proprietary GIS software to collect data and deliver it to the utility. The team that created the double wood program created a custom process to collect data and deliver it to the utility through an easy-to-use application on handheld tablets.
For the Midwestern utility’s current program, DRG audits the pole attachments to determine if the communication line transfer is simple or complex. If it’s considered simple, DRG transfers the communication line to the new pole and removes the old one. If it’s complex, the communication company performs the line transfer and DRG removes the old pole. In the instance of a complex transfer, DRG also handles communication between pole owners and attachers, streamlining the process for the utility.
Once out-of-service poles are removed, they are disposed of or recycled when possible. Along with performing the double wood removal service, DRG also coordinates with local recycling centers to take poles that can be recycled.
Around 70 DRG personnel work on the project, including 20 pole pulling crews, 20 poles auditors, 3 project managers and a number of technical staff to manage work order programs. DRG expects to remove almost 40,000 poles per year for the utility over the next three years.
The double wood program has created a safer and more reliable system for the utility and strengthened the almost 20-year relationship between the two.