Inspection of 16,000 utility poles underway in Columbia

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Columbia Water & Light contracted outside workers to inspect 16,000 utility poles across Columbia.

Workers from Lee's Inspection are currently focusing on the central city area.

Columbia Water & Light Utilities Services Specialist Connie Kacprowicz said contracting outside workers is cheaper than using linemen employed by the city.

"By using contracted workers we can go out on bid and get the lowest cost," Kacprowicz said.

She said the contracted workers don't need to be paid as much as linemen because the workers are only qualified to inspect the poles, while the linemen are also qualified to do maintenance on them.

"Linemen have to be trained to do the work they're doing, and many times they're doing work on live electric lines," Kacprowicz said. "So we don't want them to be taken out to do that kind of work."

The contracted workers will note any problems or other lines that are attached to the poles and ensure the pole numbers match the information in the city's geographic information system.

"This is part of our routine maintenance," Kacprowicz said. "We do pole inspections, but we also have someone on our staff that goes out with a very good quality infrared camera to check for hot spots where there might be a mechanical failure about to happen."

Kacprowicz said the city needs to make sure all the equipment is working properly.

"It's important to make sure that all of our equipment in our system is reliable," Kacprowicz said. "Part of that is, we have overhead electric lines and we need to make sure that the pole is stable and in good condition."

Kacprowicz said the work will likely continue into the winter months.

"If you see someone in the high-vis yellow jacket with a hard hat on walking around and inspecting the poles, know that they are working for Water and Light." Kacprowicz said.