ARTICLE | Composite Poles Withstand Texas Tornado

Submitted by RS Technologies Inc. on Fri, 11/12/2021 - 14:24

RS Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of advanced composite products for infrastructure markets, announces that its RS poles have withstood an important field test in Lajitas, Texas — a direct hit by a tornado. In spite of high winds and swirling debris, the RS poles demonstrated their worth and capability in hardening the Rio Grande Electric Cooperative Inc. (RGEC; Brackettville, Texas, U.S.) grid. RGEC maintains over 9400 miles (15,178 km) of distribution line and 143 miles (230 km) of transmission line in west Texas and southern New Mexico comprising an area over 27,000 sq miles (69,930 sq km).

A large diameter three-module RS pole being installed by relatively small equipment for a direct-bury installation
Rio Grande crews installing a large diameter three-module RS pole that obviates the need for guy wires. Note the relatively small equipment needed for the direct bury installation. (Photo by Patrick Harris, RS Technologies Inc.)

Dan Laws, general manager and CEO for RGEC, stated, “A tornado touched down in Lajitas on Oct. 7. Several homes in the area had roofs ripped completely off. We had pad-mounted transformers and junction boxes swept completely off their pads. We lost eight 40-ft (12-m) Class 3 wooden poles on our brand new Study Butte-Lajitas 34.5-kV 3O line. These were snapped off like toothpicks 2 ft (0.6 m) above the ground. RGEC Operations reported that the RS composite poles that we installed in this area ‘did not budge at all.’”

Even before the tornado struck, RGEC was already considering the purchase of additional RS poles for several projects because of their favorable previous experience installing RS poles. Obviously, the RGEC is now even more impressed with RS composite pole technology.

“If we could afford to replace all our poles tomorrow with the RS pole, we would do it given the increased strength, durability and reliability that we believe these poles would provide,” said Larry T. Powell, director of engineering for RGEC.