Power Play

A better utility pole from Canada.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the lights went out as power utility poles were hammered and left dangling in the fierce wind. Utility companies struggling to rebuild grids might want to consider RStandard utility poles, a modular composite product from Edmonton-based Resin Systems Inc. (TSXV: RS). “I'm sure our salespeople are already speaking to them,” says vice-president of marketing Milena Radakovic.

RStandard utility poles offer a number of advantages over steel, concrete or wooden poles. The Canadian-made poles, composed of fibre manufactured primarily from raw quartz and the company's patented Version polyurethane resin, can last 80 years; traditional poles survive for only 40 to 50 years. They are maintenance-free, environmentally friendly and lighter than regular poles. They're also economical: overall installation costs are much less, and the poles themselves are competitively priced. When it comes to disasters, RStandard poles are well-suited to take the punishment. They are composed of 15-foot or 30-foot sections, so a damaged portion can be replaced without taking down the whole pole. This means a stricken utility can be brought back online faster. “One of the things they can withstand is great impact,” says Radakovic. “Our poles are so light, that if one gets hit by a car and is cracked, it won't fall down; it will hang there.”

RStandard poles are in use in Alberta, Ontario and in states such as Washington, California and Colorado. On Sept. 6, the firm announced its first pole shipment to a licensee in Australia. Resin Systems estimates the annual value for replacement and new transmission poles is more than US$9 billion, and plans to capture 4% of the market by 2007. As their poles go up across North America, so do hopes that when catastrophe strikes, people won't be left in the dark.