Ryan Dezember The Wall Street Journal writes that the electric car era is causing high demand for utility poles, due to infrastructure spending and grid upgrades. He continues:
Electric cars. The solar build-out. Washington’s rural-broadband initiative. Utilities bracing the grid for stronger storms. They all depend on the same thing: big trees.
The utility-pole business is booming, thanks to a flood of public and private infrastructure spending. So the hunt is on for the tallest, straightest, knot-free conifers, which are peeled, dried and pressure-treated at facilities such as Koppers Holdings’ KOP 2.80%increase; green up pointing triangle pole plant in southeastern Georgia’s pinelands.
Employees cruise surrounding pine plantations, marking pole-worthy loblolly and longleaf and making offers. The bigger, the better these days, given how much more equipment and cable poles must hold in the era of fiber optics and electric cars, said Jim Healey, Koppers’ vice president of utility and industrial products. […]
Extraordinary measures are taken to fill orders for the largest wooden poles, like those along transmission lines. They are often Douglas fir or Western red cedar, prized for warding off insects, as in closets. Stella sometimes uses helicopters to pluck individual stems of cedar from Pacific Northwest forests.
Arborists climb the giants, cut the tops and limbs, affix neon flags and wedge back cuts into the butt. A helicopter with a grapple snaps off the stems and whisks them away with minimal damage to the surrounding woods.
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