Wood is a good material for utility poles for a variety of reasons. It’s a renewable resource, affordable, resistant to oxidation and corrosion, and doesn’t conduct electricity. A large percentage of the United States’ 134 million utility poles are made from wood, and it’s been the industry standard for decades.
Wood is a renewable resource. This means it can be replaced in the about the same amount of time that it takes to draw down the supply.
Wooden utility poles in America are made from Southern Yellow Pine, Douglas Fir, and Western Red Cedar. These trees grow straight, tall and quickly. The utility pole supplier studies potential trees for quality before harvesting, and only about seven percent of the trees studied become utility poles.
While there is some argument over the role wooden poles play in deforestation, studies have shown that wood poles use less power than their steel counterparts over time. Wooden poles are recyclable, and with proper forest management, they pose no threat to the environment.
With proper care, wooden utility poles can last up to 70 years. In contrast, steel poles have an expected service life of about 40 years.
To ensure their longevity, the wood is treated with a chemical preservative that protects it from mold, insects, termites, and fungi. This preservative covers the wood’s surface and is infused deep into the wood, allowing it to last for decades.
Wood is an affordable choice for several reasons.
It’s cheaper to transport than steel and concrete. When correctly stacked for shipping, wooden utility poles only need about half the space that concrete and steel poles do. They don’t require any special packaging during transport and tolerate surface damage well.
Since it’s lighter than steel and concrete, wood doesn’t require large cranes for installation. This reduces installation costs.
Planting wooden poles are easier than planting steel and concrete poles. They don’t conduct electricity, so there’s no need to ground them upon installation. They also don’t require the special concrete foundation that steel poles do.
Wooden utility poles serve communities well. They are affordable and sourced from a renewable resource. With proper treatment and care, they will last for decades.