Western Power’s pole testing facility has been officially opened at our Bibra Lake depot (WA). The facility currently houses Australia’s largest pole test rig that can test the durability of power poles.

The $1 million research facility will provide Western Power, and other network providers, with a greater understanding of the structural integrity of wooden, metal, concrete and composite power poles that are used in networks across the country.

Western Power’s Asset Management Executive Manager, Seán McGoldrick, said the pole test rig could test poles up to 36 metres long and 1.5 metres in diameter.

“New and ex-service poles will be subjected to breaking tests in the pole test rig to determine how they deteriorate with age, which will allow us to more accurately assess their life expectancy,” Dr McGoldrick said.


“The data we collect will be essential to the improvement of the maintenance and replacement programs for more than 630,000 wood poles in Western Power’s network.”

Dr McGoldrick said that other network providers had already indicated their interest in using the facility to test their power poles.

“Wood pole reinforcement and replacement is one of the largest investments for most distribution network providers and requires significant effort to effectively manage in order to provide customers with a safe, reliable and affordable electricity supply,” he said.


Fact file

  • The winch on the pole rig can apply up to 20 tonnes of force, which is the equivalent of 18 cars worth of weight.
  • The pole rig is capable of testing wood, concrete, metal and composite poles and streetlights.
  • In the first year of testing up to 150 poles will be snapped.
  • The facility is being made available to other network providers and suppliers.
  • There are more than 800,000 poles and towers in Western Power’s network and 630,000 of those are wooden poles.
  • Western Power’s network covers a network area of 255,064 km2.

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