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Why Do I Need To Learn Pole Loading Analysis?

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Just a few years ago, pole loading analysis jobs were more of a rarity, with third-party attachment and OSP engineering contractors typically needing just a few loading specialists on staff who could evaluate existing and proposed conditions on poles. While distribution engineers have been using standards and software platforms to calculate a pole's load for years, attachers were rarely required to do the same.

For today's third-party attachment engineering contracts and pole applications, more and more utilities are requiring comprehensive loading analysis of the proposed conditions for every new attachment.

Learning pole loading analysis can feel like a daunting task. In addition to learning a new software platform and the nuances of distribution design, PLA projects will also need feedback from clients and the pole owner. Each utility's distribution standards are different, so even if you have a handle on O-Calc Pro, your next project might require learning a new set of standards and SPIDAcalc.

Though it's no easy task, pole loading analysis will quickly become necessary for success in the industry. Here are three additional ways learning pole loading will make a difference in your day-to-day projects:

1. Your attachment applications get better

Once you have some experience with pole loads and conditions, you'll start to develop a sixth sense for which poles to avoid in your applications, when possible. You'll also have a better sense of where to guy (and where not to guy), which helps your applications be processed faster. Since many utilities require attachers to perform their own loading analysis, an understanding of the process will give you a major advantage over other attachers in those markets.

2. It shows the pole owner that you care about their grid

Utilities have no problem with you being on their poles as long as the attachment is safe and it doesn't lead to power outages. For years pole owner/attacher relationships have been tense, and this is partially due to a misconception that pole owners will do whatever it takes to keep attachers off their poles. We've learned that attachers who value the safety and reliability of the electrical grid are much more successful at building relationships with the pole owners and finding compromises during make ready disputes. Being willing to perform loading analysis shows utilities that your team cares about keeping the lights on in the communities surrounding your new attachment.

3. You become better equipped to handle make ready disputes

Since everyone interprets distribution standards a bit differently, there is often more than one correct answer for how to call make ready on each pole. If you have an issue with how the pole owner's engineering contractor called make ready, before addressing it you will need to get up to speed with their distribution standards, NESC clearance requirements, and the environmental loading district in question. This difficulty aside, under the new FCC Order attachers are more equipped than ever before to challenge make ready costs. Using pole loading analysis, your team can see exactly what is causing each pole to fail, and make sure that your team isn't paying for make ready to fix others' pre-existing violations.

Thanks for reading! To learn more about pole loading analysis and the pole attachments process, check out our other articles or email us at!

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