Altus gets stronger power poles

Altus_City of Altus officials and residents hope new power poles will weather this year's spring storms.  The new poles on Tamarack road are at least double the size of the old one standing about 80-120 feet high.  In the past, storms have left the city without power for as long as six days, but the new poles are expected to be much more sturdy, and hopes are high  that not even the strongest winds should topple them.

The solid wood poles are strong enough to withstand a lot.  Resident Ron Salafia isn't phased by the new power poles being erected in front of his place of employment.  "We often get bad winds through here, so why shouldn't they have those?  If one goes down, we can still have power and not be in the dark ages anymore," he said.

Electrical Superintendent Daniel Scott says that the poles may appear a little strange, but he says they're completely safe.  "You got the same old scare - the EMF (Electro-Magnetic Frequency), and, 'Why's it so close to my house?' and 'Are we going to get cancer off of it?'  That's the same old propaganda," he said.

Scott says the thicker and taller the poles are, the stronger they will be.  "If we'd had this back in June, we could have gotten the power back on two days earlier," he said.  In June, a storm destroyed buildings and toppled poles.  His workers toiled around the clock until power was restored.  He says the outage was so widespread that they logged 2,000 complaints in just one hour.  "One time we didn't get the power back on until the sixth day after storm," he said.

Salafia says he is happy Altus is keeping pace with the rest of the U.S. with stronger poles.  "They're gigantic, and they're huge, and now we have new modern stuff - I like it!  Altus is being upgraded," he said.

Scott says the cost of more than 200 poles for the town will cost about $13 million, and he expects the work to be completed by spring.  The City of Altus is a member of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority which is paying for the polls and installing them.