‘Build-out’ is back as utilities race to upgrade the grid

Dec 01, 2008 | 08:16 AM |

Current high demand for transmission towers is expected to continue in the foreseeable future—good news for steelmakers.

Many, but not all, transmission towers—including lattice towers and transmission poles—are made of high-strength steel (HSS) sheet or plate that has been formed into tubular structures, according to James Heady, principal transmission engineer at Orange & Rockland Utilities Inc., Spring Valley, N.Y.

Myriad factors are driving this demand, including greater electronics usage in home offices and more renewable energy sources plugging into the grid.

"There is more need for transmission capacity and, therefore, for more transmission towers, just because of the nature of the electric market," said Ron Snead, vice president of asset management for the power delivery group of Duke Energy Corp., Charlotte, N.C. "There is more of a need to move power over longer distances, to improve reliability, to beef up the transmission system and to allow for a more economic exchange of energy. Demand is growing."

Attributing much of it to "booming" demand for electricity-based and electricity-recharged electronics technology, Chris Olert, a spokesman for New York-based Consolidated Edison Co., which also owns Orange & Rockland, said that his utility's customers are using about 20 percent more electricity than they were in 1998. The biggest growth area is for electronics technology-rich home offices, he said.....

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