We are introducing yet another new strategy to improve the reliability of the electric grid in Michigan. We have purchased 1,200 iron utility poles – a $3.5 million investment – to withstand the forces of mother nature and keep overhead power lines securely in place.

These poles are stronger, lighter and longer lasting than their traditional wooden counterparts. They are engineered to resist fire and the effects of Michigan’s harsh weather, and they are not vulnerable to wood decay, woodpeckers, insects or other wildlife.

Iron poles are expected to last upwards of 80 years, which is approximately double the lifespan of a wood pole. This longer lifecycle, combined with recent shortages and increasing prices of wood, led us to move ahead with sourcing and installing iron poles this year.

“These new iron poles will fortify our infrastructure, reducing the number of times that homes and businesses lose power,” said Greg Salisbury, vice president of electric distribution engineering. “Their ability to withstand the elements will protect the power lines and help to reduce customer outages in the future.”

“Installing these initial iron poles is another meaningful step toward modernizing the grid and improving reliability for our customers.” said Chris Laird, vice president of electric operations. “When the weather is good, you’ll see our crews busy at work this year installing poles safely and quickly to make sure we’re ready for storms.”

We are delivering the first iron poles to the Kalamazoo, Greenville, and Tawas areas. They will initially be installed at selected new construction sites that are accessible to bucket trucks, which are essential to reach and perform work on iron pole tops. Following this first phase of implementation, installations will expand to other areas and replace existing wooden poles throughout our service territory.

The introduction of iron poles is the latest tactic to be deployed as part of the Reliability Roadmap, our plan for a smarter and stronger electric grid. The plan includes investments in smart technology and automation, forestry work, and infrastructure upgrades like this one. It is a blueprint for serving Michigan today while investing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

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