SWEPCO defends aging poles

By Tracy Clemons

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- A handful of SWEPCO customers were without power for a good chunk of Wednesday thanks to a fallen pole. SWEPCO got the call around 7:00 a.m. that the pole had gone down in the 7700 block of Creswell Ave. Four customers lost power, and the road was closed well into the afternoon.

"In this case you have an outage caused by a broken pole. A rotten pole that was entered into the customer cause," says SWEPCO spokesman Scott McCloud.

One worker told KSLA News 12 Wednesday morning that the pole broke because it was old. Scott McCloud says incidents like this make up less than one percent of outages this year.

"So that's about 12 outages our of 12,000 outages."

It's a small percentage, but this is the third time in a month that age was blamed for a pole falling. I asked McCloud what happens if a pole in that small percentage hurts someone. He admits that injuries could occur, but says that it's unlikely.

"We maintain a right of way from our poles, so if they fall, they're usually going to fall in parallel with a span next in row. What prevents trees from knocking poles down? That happens a lot more than poles that could be rotten."

He says SWEPCO maintains about 20-percent of its poles throughout the year, and there is an inspection program in place. But he adds that budget constraints have meant cutbacks to that program. Still, on average, they replace 500 to 1,000 poles every year in Louisiana.

"...we're still looking, maintaining, watching the poles when we're out on the sites."

McCloud urges customers to contact SWEPCO any time they see a pole that they think could be in

danger of falling. Getting a pole number is helpful for crews to be able to locate and repair the pole.

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