At the end of September, eleven extra-tall power poles were installed over two days, to carry three different wires for the Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) – fiber-optic cable for Internet access, the high-voltage transmission line, and the distribution line that carries electricity to each customer.
According to PUD General Manger John Grubich, the beefy wood-laminate poles were installed now as part of the PUD’s broadband expansion in areas requiring additional clearance for the fiber-optic cables.
Since the poles can accommodate all three uses in the event that the utility can build the powerline, the PUD used 75-foot poles it had already purchased for the Pateros-Twisp transmission line because they needed extra-tall poles for the broadband cables.
The PUD has been hoping to begin construction on the powerline for years, but the project has been delayed by court challenges, primarily over the utility’s efforts to condemn private and state land for easements along the route.
The poles were installed by the PUD’s contractor for the broadband project, Potelco, since the company has the equipment to handle the larger poles.
The project was funded three years ago by the federal Stimulus Act to bring high-speed Internet service to underserved areas. According to the PUD’s director of power resources and broadband services, almost all wireless access points in the 200-mile broadband expansion have been installed, along with most of the fiber-optic cables.