Lowering the High Price of Electricity

After a year of public flogging, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has agreed to replace behemoth power poles with smaller, less intrusive poles along Calvert County’s winding Bowie Shop Road and Route 2/4 in Huntingtown.
    Smaller is relative.
    The poles will still be as tall — 75 feet — but a thicker steel plate will allow for the poles to taper toward the top. That, says SMECO spokesman Tom Dennison, is because “The most objectionable part has been the lack of tapering.”
    The poles installed last year measure about 44 to 54 inches at their top.
    SMECO’s goal, Dennison says, “is to reduce those tops to about 11 to 14 inches so they’ll be tapered and reduce that smokestack look.”
    The bottom diameter of the poles, more than seven feet in some, may also be decreased; that’s still to be determined.
    “We’re waiting to receive proposals from contractors,” Dennison says. “Then we will have a better idea of our options.”
    Even with smaller poles on the way, SMECO promises to stick with its previous plan to work with homeowners to use landscaping to screen the poles. Dennison says this can be done by planting large shrubs and tall evergreens that will grow alongside the poles but won’t interfere with the power lines above.
    The great pole shrink is scheduled to begin in April, with 23 of the 26 poles to be switched out.
    “Because that line feeds the Huntingtown sub-station, work needs to happen during low-peak months of April, May and June,” Dennison says. “Work will stop in July and August, then resume when weather cools in the fall.”
    The pole replacement project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011 with no disruptions in power. The cost will be covered by budgeted construction funds for the project.
    “The exact costs still have to be determined,” Dennison says.
    One pole, located on Pearl Miller’s property on route 2/4, will be removed. That power pole was set in concrete on the edge of her property, directly in front of her living room’s large picture window.
    “It is very much appreciated,” Miller said. “I won’t have to look out the window at that monster every day.”