Pole Inspections Target More Reliable Electric Service

Three-year process will check condition of more than 6,000 poles

The backbone of Starkville’s electric system will soon benefit from a comprehensive inspection program to enhance service, reliability and resiliency.

Starkville Utilities is launching a three-year pole inspection program that will include more than 6,000 poles in the utility’s service area. Inspections will be performed by Osmose Utilities Services, Inc., an industry leader in pole treatment and inspection services.

“We work year-round to improve service and reliability, and utility poles are a critical part of our community’s power grid,” said John Scott, assistant general manager of Starkville Utilities. “By proactively inspecting and identifying assets needing replacement or repairs, we can help prevent repeated or extended outages, leading to better service for everyone.”

Utility poles can weaken over time due to environmental conditions, vehicle strikes and other causes. The top-to-bottom inspection program will evaluate all wooden, concrete and steel poles, with a focus on the strength and condition of wooden poles.

As part of the project scope, Osmose will visually inspect all overhead lines and poles to identify reliability concerns that need to be repaired by Starkville Utilities. In addition, Osmose will inventory all poles so they can be correctly tagged by age and type and updated in the company’s geographic information system. This will help with future planning and response.

The inspection process for wooden poles over 10 years old will start with a visual check for defects, followed by “sounding” each pole with a hammer to find internal voids or hollow cavities. Then poles will be excavated, which involves digging 18 inches down around poles to check for signs of decay at and below the groundline. If decay is identified, the pole will be treated to stop future decay.

Inspectors will then evaluate the pole’s strength based on the remaining healthy wood. If pole strength falls below design standards, it will be added to the pole replacement program and replaced at a later date.

Work began this week and will focus on Starkville Utilities’ electrical infrastructure north of Highway 182. In 2025, inspectors will move to the area between Highway 12 and Highway 182, and in 2026, they will inspect the system on the south side of Highway 12.

Electric service will not be affected, and Starkville Utilities will post updates about inspection schedules and locations on its social media channels. Depending on where utility poles are located, Osmose personnel may need to access customer property to perform inspections.

“We appreciate customers’ patience as we perform this important work and remind everyone to stay safely away from work zones,” said Scott. “Crews will be clearly identified with Osmose-branded clothing and marked vehicles, and they’ll place safety signage and cones around them as they work. If you notice a potential hazard, or have general questions, please give us a call at 662-323-3133.”

Starkville Utilities is a municipally owned and operated electric and water utility, serving more than 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville as well as the state’s largest institution of higher learning, Mississippi State University.

We are a Water and Electric Utilities Company in Starkville