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Call for Members: New Standard for Design of Prestressed Concrete Transmission Pole Structures

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Development of a new standard ASCE/SEI XX - Design of Prestressed Concrete Transmission Pole Structures will begin in 2021. The committee will be seeking new members to begin work on the new edition of the standard. Ken Sharpless, P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE, will chair the cycle. Practicing engineers, researchers, building officials, contractors and construction product representatives are all needed and welcome. If you are interested to apply for the committee, please submit an application by January 31, 2021,via the online form by selecting "SEI" from Institute drop down and then "Prestressed Concrete Transmission Pole Structures. Carefully indicate the Membership Category for which you are applying. Associate members can be accepted until balloting begins. Eligible regulatory members can qualify for travel reimbursement per ASCE Travel Policy, when applicable. Contact Jennifer Goupil with questions. 

Executive Summary

This work falls under the jurisdiction of the Structural Engineering Institute's (SEI) Standards Activity Committee within the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The objective of this work is to establish an ASCE Standards activity for the development of a national consensus Standard governing the strength requirements of prestressed concrete structures supporting overhead electrical power lines (electrical transmission and distribution structures). The ASCE Task Committee on Concrete Transmission Pole Structures, of the Committee of Electrical Transmission Structures, of the SEI prepared the Manuals and Reports on Engineering Practice (MoP) No. 123, which was published in 2012. MoP 123 will serve as the primary resource document for this standard development. This proposed Standard is expected to be complementary to other related ASCE/SEI Standards (ASCE 10 Design of Lattice Steel Transmission Towers, and ASCE/SEI 48 Design of Steel Transmission Pole Structures) addressing structures supporting overhead electrical power lines. Other utility structure Standards (Fiberglass Poles, Wood Poles) will likely be developed over time from the MoP's currently published. Users of this standard will include electrical utilities, regional and multi-regional developers as part of the FERC Order 1000 process, engineering consultants responsible for the design and construction of these overhead lines, and federal and state regulators. 


Since the publication in 1987 of the first ASCE Guide for the Design and Use of Concrete Poles, and publication in 1994 of the joint ASCE-PCI Committee Report "Guide for the Design of Prestressed Concrete Poles", significant advancements and innovations have been realized in concrete pole design and manufacturing technologies. These advancements have propelled the use of concrete poles into an ever-increasing and significant role in the design and construction of overhead utility line structures. The background of these two prior publications supported the development of ASCE MoP 123. Similar to the "MoP to Standard" path of Steel Lattice Towers and Steel Tubular Poles, a consensus Standard for Prestressed Concrete Poles will be an important resource for electric utilities, consulting firms, and manufactures. No other similar Standard for prestressed concrete utility pole structures is available for reference by those who wish to specify and/or install these poles. 


The scope of this proposed Standard development will be to provide the reader with a source for industry's consensus based generally accepted knowledge regarding the principles and methods for the design, manufacturing, and use of prestressed spun-and static-cast concrete poles for overhead utility line structures. This standard will be a collaborative effort by engineers from electric utilities, consulting firms, and manufacturers engaged in the design and application of these structures. This standard is not intended to specifically undertake foundation design methodology for concrete poles. The specific pole soil interaction and analysis needed for a proper foundation design is being addressed for these type of utility structures in a new Utility Structure Foundation Design MoP currently underway. 

Current Activities 

The Task Committee making up the Committee of Electrical Transmission Structures continue to be actively engaged in Task Reports, Guides, and Manuals and Reports of Engineering Practice. Take together, they form an important set of reference documents vital to the overhead utility line industry professionals and these type of documents allow time for the knowledge transfer within them to become fully reviewed and commented on by design professionals. However until a document becomes a Standard it is viewed with less authority and standing within the design engineering community. Sufficient time has now allowed the three prior "non-mandatory" publications related to design of concrete pole structures to be fully applied and tested. Those prior efforts will now form the basis of this proposed new Standard activity. 


The objective of this proposal is to gain approval to being the work necessary to develop a "Standards" document for the principles and methods for the design, manufacturing, and use of prestressed spun- and static-cast concrete poles for overhead utility line structures. This Standard will then become available as the mandatory reference for use by electric utilities, consulting firms, and manufacturers for incorporation in project specifications. The Standard will undergo the robust guidelines and procedures required of all ASCE Standards development. 

Benefits to the Public

The public will most certainly benefit from the consistent application of product design and material performance that will be required by this Standard. Structural performance, quality, and cost efficiency depend on current best practices developed through the consensus-based Standards process. With regard to prestressed concrete poles specifically, the public will benefit through the recognition in a Standard, that technological advances have occurred in three key areas. 

  • The types and quality of the raw materials used in the production of high-performance concrete have improved dramatically. 
  • Advanced manufacturing methods and equipment to produce high-quality, stronger, and longer length poles are being used. 
  • Meaningful research and development (R&D) investment in the technology, significant and innovative enhancements to the engineering design technology of concrete poles has been effectively realized. 

All of the above benefits lead to potential cost savings to the public by allowing electric utilities to build overhead lines with these type structures at a lower initial cost, and reduced long-term maintenance cost. 

Rationale for ASCE Involvement

ASCE/SEI is well recognized as the preferred developer of up-to-date and thorough technical Standards for structure loads and strengths within the electrical utility industry. This reflected in the almost worldwide use of ASCE 10 and ASCE 48 Standards. This organizational leadership will continue through the approval to develop and publish this proposed Standard. 

Potential Membership/Core User Group

The goal is to populate this committee in keeping with the ASCE committee guidelines with a balanced group representing the users of this document. It is anticipated that the committee makeup will likely be comprised predominantly of engineers working for organizations who purchased and use concrete poles in the design of their overhead lines, consult for those firms, or from within one of the three suppliers of these prestressed concrete poles to the industry. 

Target Committee Members

  • Engineering Specifications Writers
  • Structural Engineers
  • Consulting Engineers
  • Academia
  • Electrical Utilities
  • Line Design Consultants
  • Structure Designers and Suppliers

Preliminary Schedule

We are confidence that this activity could be successfully completed in 48-60 months. The proposed schedule for this activity is as follows, assuming approval by ASCE before the end of 2020:

  1. Formal announcement and call for members published 1st QTR 2021
  2. Writing begins 3rd QTR of 2021
  3. Draft completed 4th QTR 2023
  4. Committee balloting begins 1st QTR 2024
  5. Public balloting begins 3rd QTR 2024
  6. Balloting and comments resolved, Standard printed 1st QTR 2025

The Committee will be chaired by:

It is proposed that the Chair of this Standard activity will be Mr. Kenneth Sharpless, P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE. Mr. Sharpless was a member of the Task Committee that developed the MoP 123 and served as its secretary. He is also past chair of the recently published ASCE 48 Standard and offers that experience to the chair role for this proposed Standard. Mr. Sharpless is very familiar with the ASCE Rules for Standards Committees from his direct experience and his roles with SEI's CSAD ExCOM and ASCE's CSC.

A Vice-Chair will be selected upon organization of this Standards Committee that will be ready to transition and assume responsibilities for the next cycle of the Standard.