Pedernales Electric Cooperative workers install a single steel pole in Meadowlakes as part of a multimillion-dollar project to upgrade poles and lines in the Marble Falls area. Once each steel pole is in working order, crews will remove the two wooden poles seen here. Photo courtesy of PEC
The last of a multimillion-dollar project to replace two wooden transmission poles with a single steel pole and upgraded lines is nearing completion in the Marble Falls area, said Cody Luehfling, an engineer in Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s Transmission Development Department. The project began in 2018 and should be done by May 2022.
“These poles have a longer life span and less maintenance costs,” Luehfling said. “This will benefit the membership because PEC will spend less money on maintenance and inspections.”
The new poles can also handle more adverse weather. They require fewer guide wires, and those wires can hold larger loads.
“One of the key drivers for this project is the growth in the area,” Luehfling continued. “Upgrading the wire size better serves the amount of load and future load.”
In 2021, PEC processed 40,909 new member applications and installed 18,627 new meters, a record high.
Transmission cost of service is passed along to the electric provider customers of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state’s grid. It is based on the actual cost of transmitting electricity to members and is regulated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
PEC plans to replace wooden H-structures with steel monopoles throughout its service area. The Marble Falls-area project now underway is the final one in the Highland Lakes. A project connecting Burnet and Bertram was finished in 2021. In 2020, poles were replaced between Wirtz Dam and Johnson City.
The co-op is returning each location where poles have been removed and replaced to the same condition it was found, Luehfling said.
“We know we are running across members’ property, and I want to assure everyone that we will restore the right of way to the condition it was in before we arrived,” he said.