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Thou Shalt, and the ASCE

stand•ard [stan-derd] noun, something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model

The electric utility industry relies heavily on various standards to guide much of our day-to-day work. The National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) is an important industry safety standard. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE}, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are other organizations that provide a host of technical standards relevant to our industry.

I have been a member of the ASCE 48-11 – Design of Steel Transmission Pole Structures committee for more than 20 years. The standard definition provides a good summary of the committee’s purpose. This document is the design authority for tubular steel transmission poles.

You will see the word ”shall” throughout the document, defining requirements that everyone, anywhere, anytime, must do. These “thou shalts” are codified in the Standard section of the document. The Commentary and Appendix sections represent useful information that fall into the category of things you ‘should’ do or consider, but they are not requirements. These are critically important distinctions.

The Standard is a document of general consent. The steel pole committee includes representatives from utilities, manufacturers and engineering consultants. ASCE requires the committee to be numerically balanced among these stakeholders. Gaining consensus on nearly any issue can involve interesting discussions, and rarely happens quickly.

The Standard is an approved document. It has general, industry-wide approval through a rigorous voting process. Each ASCE standard must be reviewed and revised every five years.

The 48-11 committee met recently in Tucson, Arizona, as part of the current revision cycle. Nearly 40 members and guests approved 43 change proposals that will appear on the committee ballot. Fifteen more changes await consideration at the next meeting this fall.

Change proposals in this revision will address a number of key issues: aesthetics, pre-engineered poles (wood pole equivalents), base plates, anchor bolts, flange connections, socketed base plates and flanges, structure testing, slip joints, assembly and erection, embedded casings, guying and anchors, inspection, coating repair, bolted frames and damage to unloaded arms.

When you design a tubular steel transmission pole, should you follow ASCE 48-11? Yes, thou shalt.

About the author

Marlon is our account executive in the Power market. He has more than 35 years of experience with all aspects of planning, design and construction of 12.5 kV-345 kV distribution and transmission systems, including right-of-way, design, regulatory coordination, public information meetings, public testimony and project management. With an extensive background in power transmission and distribution, Marlon brings a wide variety of knowledge in discussing the energy industry and the issues it faces. From education of future engineers to critical infrastructure analysis, he offers a unique perspective on the industry and where it's headed.