Prepare your business for outages: pole replacement work to accelerate in 2015

Image of power line technicians working from bucket truck
BC Hydro crews comprised of both staff and contractors will soon start replacing close to 350 wooden poles a month across B.C. There are also 500 concrete poles to be replaced.

Businesses need to plan ahead for scheduled eight-hour outages

With 900,000 power poles around the province, keeping up with wear and tear is a steady job. Wooden poles last 40-50 years, so BC Hydro maintains a continuous program of tracking aging poles and replacing them when necessary.

As a business owner, it's important to be ready for a planned outage should a pole connected to your service be identified for replacement. This is especially true as more poles will be targeted in the new year.

"We're stepping up the pace of replacements in the Vancouver and North Shore areas," says Raj Sharma, manager of customer service operations. "This year, we replaced about 200 poles per month. Starting in January, it will be more like 350 a month. So it really makes sense for businesses to plan ahead and know how they will handle an eight-hour outage." While BC Hydro makes every effort not to disrupt our customer's power, for safety reasons pole replacements can only be completed in daylight hours with relatively dry weather. In every case of a planned outage, customers can expect five working days minimum notice to the prepare accordingly.

In addition, approximately 500 concrete poles are scheduled for replacement, due to safety issues. Overall, 12,000 pole replacements are scheduled across the province as BC Hydro reinvests in its assets to ensure reliable power for customers.

The pole replacement work will be completed by both internal BC Hydro crews and external contracted distribution line companies.

BC Hydro recently approved a two-year agreement to bring on contractors for distribution line work. These line contractors will work side-by-side with internal BC Hydro crews on repairs, asset replacements (such as replacing wood and concrete poles), new asset installation, and trouble and storm response.

The combination of internal and external contracted crews has been a successful mix over the past two years, meeting aggressive targets, delivering quality customer service and completing the work safely and efficiently.

"Our internal crews and line contractors are obligated to meet BC Hydro's safety, work methods and customer service standards," adds Sharma. "They have done a terrific job thus far on some aggressive targets and high expectations."