8 February 2013 – Electricity supply and distribution is undergoing many changes, cutting edge smart grid technology being a good example. But as recent storms have shown there is a strong argument for focussing on some simple but effective resilient grid technology where the focus is on keeping cables in the air and the power on, something that utilities in America alone spend US$180 billion a year trying to achieve, says Ian Smith, sales manager for Polesaver.

Possibly the weakest link in a distribution network is the humble wooden utility pole a basic piece of 19th century technology, it is effectively a tree dipped in chemicals, and whilst this might be a simplistic view it’s perhaps not that far from the truth.

And as a lot of linemen know the point of greatest weakness in wooden poles is the most mechanically stressed ground line section where conditions for rot, decay and termite attack are ideal, leading to pole breakage and failure at this section while the remaining 90% of the pole is still perfectly serviceable.

This is possibly why the demand for barrier technology is growing. This form of technology keeps out the causes of rot, decay and termite attack at the vulnerable ground line section of the pole, giving a substantial extension in utility pole life, typically of 10 years or more and reducing the risk of poles breaking and preventing power outages.

Some of the latest barrier technology is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and backed up by independent test data. Barrier sleeves can be quickly and easily fitted on site or by the pole supplier.