West Virginia utility starts utility pole recycling program

If successful, FirstEnergy could expand the program to more utilities

Mon Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. said this week that it is launching a sustainability initiative to recycle and repurpose utility poles in West Virginia.

If a utility pole is damaged and no longer fit for use, Mon Power will remove any utility hardware from the pole and store it at one of its nine participating service centers. Each pole, which weighs roughly 50 pounds per cubic foot, must be at least eight feet in length to be part of the reuse program. Alternative uses for poles typically include fencing, parking bollards, guide rail posts, landscaping or treated wood construction.

When Mon Power has collected a full load of approximately 25 poles, the company will work with Blackwood Solutions, a transportation and materials management firm, to pick them up and distribute them for reuse. The poles will be delivered at no cost to interested parties  – such as farmers, mills, charitable organizations and even employees – who are willing to accept a full load, can be accessed by tractor trailer and are located within a certain distance from the collection sites.

In the past, Mon Power’s discarded poles had been cut into smaller pieces and stored on site until a waste management company took them to a landfill for proper disposal. While it could take up to a year for Mon Power to accumulate a full load of poles to be recycled, the program is expected to reduce Mon Power’s waste stream significantly over time, as most poles weigh between 300 and 4,100 pounds.

The company will review the program over the next 12 months and consider expanding it to additional locations in its service territory. The pole recycling program was first piloted last year at Ohio Edison, a FirstEnergy electric subsidiary based in Ohio.

“We are committed to reducing waste and improving our recycling efforts, and this is an exciting opportunity for us to adopt a more environmentally friendly practice and find new uses for our secondhand utility poles in West Virginia,” said Jim Myers, president of FirstEnergy’s West Virginia operations.

Mon Power serves about 395,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties.

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Jennifer Runyon is a Content Director at Clarion Energy, writing, editing and posting content on POWERGRID International and planning conference sessions for DISTRIBUTECH's live and virtual events. She as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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