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Power 101—What’s All That Stuff on a Power Pole?

power pole with components numbered 1 to 81. WOODEN POLE
Buried at least four feet in the ground and preserved to prevent decay. Most are made from Georgia-grown pine trees.

2. GUY WIRE
Often mispronounced as “guide wire.” Made of steel and used to stabilize and secure the pole.

3. TRANSFORMER
Steel tank containing copper or aluminum coils. Reduces voltage from primary lines before it goes on the service wires so it’s usable in homes and businesses.

4. NEUTRAL WIRE
Makes a connection back to the substation and balances the amount of electricity on the system. The wire is also connected to the earth/ground and made of aluminum surrounding a steel core.

5. SERVICE WIRE
Carries electricity from transformer to building. Made of aluminum surrounding a steel core.

6. PRIMARY WIRE
Carries high-voltage power from the substation. There are three primary wires on this pole. Made of aluminum surrounding a steel core.

7. CUTOUT
Facilitates the connection from the primary wire to the transformer. Also contains a fuse to protect against overloads and short circuits.

8. INSULATOR
Prevents electricity from flowing into the pole. Made of porcelain or plastic.