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MID & TID take action to fix rusting metal poles
Contractor F.D. Thomas, Inc. was the lowest bidder on a project to sandblast and repaint the steel poles holding up the 230 kV line along Moore Road. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Electric transmission line towers running along the Ceres Main Canal are in the process of being repainted in a $4.9 million project funded by the Modesto Irrigation District.

Ceres residents have probably noticed the tall poles being individually enveloped by large box-like plastic shrouds starting from River Oaks Golf Course and southward. MID Public Affairs Officer Melissa Williams said the shroud is necessary because the metal poles are being stripped down by sandblasting and also to protect the painting process from being hampered by possible wind and rain.

Turlock Irrigation District serves the area south of the Tuolumne River but Williams said MID has a joint responsibility for 64 poles. Both TID and MID operate the Don Pedro Reservoir hydroelectric generation plant. The lines affected are transmission lines and do not distribute power to homes in Ceres.

"We own and maintain about 64 steel towers from our Parker Substation off of East Briggsmore and Claus in Modesto and they run south for a little over seven miles to Redwood Junction," said Williams. "We have a contractor that is helping us repaint those poles."

TID is repainting 55 poles from Redwood Junction to Walnut. The transmission line stretches all the way to Westley.

The work, contracted to F.D. Thomas, Inc., at a cost of $4.07 million, is expected to continue until a March ending.

Senior Electrical Engineer Cliff Ball, also the senior manager of the project, told the MID board in November that the transmission line was installed in 1976 and painted in 1996. Problems with the poles' paint have caused rust to occur and to maintain the integrity of the poles and reliability of the power line, MID needs to repaint them.

Ball said the lines are de-energized before scaffolding is set up around the poles and the work area is wrapped to prevent paint chips from flying into the air and going into the ground. Three coats are applied to protect the pole.

This week the paint project had reached the poles near the frontage road to Keyes.