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Know What You’re Looking At copper theft


A Spotter’s Guide to Distribution Poles By Maurice Martin, Cooperative Research Network


W 


ith a little information, you can understand a lot more about the utility pole


you pass every day. Not only could “pole spotting” shed light on the work done by Kay Electric Cooperative, you just might be able to impress your friends and family. A guide to pole spotting fol- lows. Enjoy, but please keep in mind:


-


ing. Looking is OK, but keep a safe distance from all equipment described here. 


-


tions given here represent common configurations, but in the real world, design varies greatly. Part of why elec- tric co-op employees undergo such extensive training is to enable them to identify com- ponents in the field with a high level of confidence and certainty.


Transmission vs Distribu- tion


First,


make sure that the pole you’re looking at is a distribu- tion pole and not a trans- mission pole. Dis-


tr ib ution  Kay Electric Cooperative


poles are those you see in your neigh- borhood, unless your distribution lines  feet high and made of wood. Power run- ning through KEC’s distribution lines range from 7,200 volts to 14,400 volts.   to carry elec- tricity longer distances and higher volt- ages—69,000 volts and above. Relative to dis- tribution poles, transmission poles are much larger,


ranging


from 55 feet to more than 100 feet—with the conductors high off the ground. Some large transmission lines use steel


poles and tow- er structures. In


cases where a pole carries transmission and distribu- tion lines, the transmission lines will run above the distribution lines. An easy rule to follow


is the lower the voltage of the line, the lower it is on the pole.


Four Common Distribution Devices     most people can already spot, they’re hefty metal cylinders that hang off poles.      home to a distribution line lowers the distribution voltage to what you need in your house, either 120 or 240 volts. Look at the top of a transformer and you’ll see bushings—ceramic projec- tions with several disks running around the outside. On the inside of bushings are metal conductors; the outsides are insulators, so that when they attach to a transformer the metal casing doesn’t become electrically charged. Capacitors look somewhat like


a transformer, with bushings on top, but have flat-rectangular casings. While transformers change voltage, capacitors improve the power factor on the utility lines—they prevent power from being wasted and help boost the voltage on


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