Bell Manufactures its Tallest Engineered Wood Structure to Date

In the middle of a wind farm in Alberta, Canada stands a 182-foot engineering marvel.

When Valard Construction first approached Bell Lumber and Pole in 2022, they sought an environmentally-friendly, aesthetic, and efficient wood structure that could tap from a new substation into an existing 240 kv transmission line.

Here’s how we collaborated with Valard Construction to install the tallest engineered pole we’ve ever manufactured.

Beauty meets Efficiency

Valard Construction was tasked with tapping from a new substation into an existing 240 kv transmission line for their client, AltaLink, at a wind farm in Canada. Because AltaLink has contractual obligations with the wind farms to ensure they have the taps ready in time for wind farm connections, they required a solution that was not only efficient and timely, but also aesthetically pleasing. The main challenges Valard Construction faced included:

  • Long lead times for materials.

  • A preference for a more visually appealing alternative to traditional steel poles.

“Steel poles we’ve worked with in the past typically come from China,” Barry Meredith, project manager for Valard Construction, said. “So to be able to get a wood pole from North America significantly reduces the transit time.”

Our engineered wood structures – designed by our engineering partner Laminated Wood Systems – were a great fit for Valard Construction. Due to Bell’s diverse supply chain, we’re able to source wood to fit our clients’ needs without supply chain issues.

And we did just that: we sourced, designed, engineered, and delivered a Southern Yellow Pine laminated wood structure, working alongside LWS. Standing at 182 feet tall, it’s the largest laminated pole we’ve ever crafted – and it was installed in just a few days.

The pole is special because it’s not what you’d expect. Instead of interrupting nature, it blends in with it. "Bell’s laminated wood poles are a lot more pleasing to the eye than steel alternatives. They’re streamlined, they have a nice taper. There’s no big metal phalanges," Meredith said.

Easy Installation

The pole, designed in two spliced pieces, ensured ease of transport and installation. The pre-drilled holes meant that the crew could quickly assemble the hardware, significantly reducing the installation time.

"The crew quite liked the laminated wood pole. They thought it was easy to work with. They went in quickly," said Meredith.

This ease of installation was a game-changer, allowing for a reduced crew size—a stark contrast to the more labor-intensive process required for a lattice steel tower.

Because clients who work with us gain access to our engineering partner, LWS, they’re able to significantly reduce lead times through thoughtful engineering – something that was vital for this project in particular.

For Valard Construction, the measures of success are clear: on-time delivery, budget adherence, and safety. This project checked all these boxes, but it did something more: it brought an aesthetic elegance to a utility structure.

"We’d use Bell any time we want to limit the footprint of a pole, and when aesthetics are a priority," Meredith said.

Want to be our next success story?

It’s a common misconception that engineered wood poles have a limit to how tall they can be. If that’s your perception, we challenge you to engage us with your needs. It’s likely we’ll have a creative solution for you. (Even if it’s a 182-foot-tall pole)!

If you’re looking for a structural solution that will reduce lead times, make things easy on your installation crew, and look nicer than steel, let’s talk.

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