Weathering Steel in the Transmission Industry

Weathering Steel in the Transmission Industry

It’s no secret that our country’s electric grid is outdated and rapidly aging. Fortunately, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which was signed into a law in November of 2021, included $65 billion for upgrading our country’s power infrastructure. When selecting material for replacing transmission and lighting poles, weathering steel, also referred to as COR-TEN steel, is an excellent choice. In fact, many utility owners prefer to use weathering steel because of its aesthetically-pleasing, orange-brown patina among other practical benefits. 

Weathering Steel PoleWood vs. weathering steel transmission and lighting poles 

Transmission and lighting poles are commonly made of wood and treated for protection against rot, fungi and insects. While wooden utility poles are commonly used because they are the most affordable option, wood poles decay and only have a lifespan of 25-50 years depending on the climate and soil conditions where the pole is located. 

4 reasons to choose weathering steel for transmission and lighting poles

Aged and decaying wooden poles are not only dangerous, but can also become eyesores along roads and throughout communities. Replacing wooden poles with weathering steel poles provides several advantages:

  1. Weathering steel utility poles require very minimal maintenance: The fundamental benefit weathering steel offers is its ability to resist corrosion. Periodic inspection and cleaning should be the only maintenance required to ensure the structure continues to perform well for years to come. Weathering steel is ideal for structures where access is difficult or dangerous, and where future disruption needs to be minimized.
  2. Weathering steel offers initial and whole-life cost savings: Because weathering steel can be used unpainted, the costs of the galvanizing process of non-weathering steel are eliminated.Plus, the minimal maintenance requirements of weathering steel structures greatly reduce both the direct costs of maintenance operations and the indirect costs of traffic delays.
  3. Weathering steel blends well in a variety of environments: The “rusty” orange-brown patina that weathering steel develops overtime allows transmission and lighting poles to blend in with their surroundings, rather than stand out as eyesores. This naturally-developed patina regenerates continuously when exposed to weather and produces a protective barrier that impedes further access of oxygen, moisture and pollutants.
  4. Weathering steel is a sustainable solution: The raw materials used for transmission and lighting poles contribute to the structure’s environmental footprint, so selecting sustainable materials, like weathering steel, can positively impact the environment. In addition to the fact that steel is the most-recycled material in the world, the high-strength, low-maintenance (no initial painting nor future maintenance painting is required!), and cost-effective benefits that weathering steel offers make it a sustainable solution for the transmission industry.

In summary, transmission and lighting poles fabricated from weathering still are proven to provide reliable service with minimal maintenance, which makes them a practical alternative to wooden poles. 

Supplying the transmission industry

Although other ASTM specification steels, like ASTM A572-65, are used for transmission and lighting poles, ASTM A871-65 plate is becoming more and more common. ASTM A871-65 is a high-strength, low-alloy structural steel plate with improved atmospheric corrosion resistance. This specification also provides for a 65ksi minimum yield strength and an 80ksi minimum tensile strength. The atmospheric corrosion resistance of this steel in most environments is substantially better than that of carbon steels. 

For more than 40 years, Central Steel Service has specialized in the distribution of high-strength weathering steel and high strength limited Silicon products to manufacture transmission poles used to support power lines for electricity, lighting, television, cell phone service, and radio broadcasting. Weathering steel supplied by Central Steel Service is used extensively in the transmission industry for:

  • Transmission Poles
  • Octagonal Transmission Poles
  • Lighting Poles
  • Transmission Pole Davit Arms
  • Transmission Pole Cross Arms
  • Sign Posts
  • Substation Structures
  • Switching Station Structures

Contact Central Steel Service for transmission pole steels

Central Steel Service stocks Cor-Ten®-equivalent transmission pole steels in a variety of widths and gauges. Contact one of our experienced sales representatives to learn more or request a quote.