50th Anniversary Golden Nugget: Skidaway's Electric Power

By Richard Burke

Skidaway’s electric power comes across the marsh from a substation in Pinpoint to a substation on McWhorter Drive. In early years, those electric transmission lines were carried on wooden poles, which still are common throughout the United States. But wood is susceptible to the ravages of wind, lightning, storms, birds and insects, and this is particularly so when they are used to cross miles of open marsh and water, where wind gusts are not mitigated by buildings, hills or forests. As a result, early Landings owners had their share of weather-related power outages.

Pre-stressed concrete poles seemed to offer a marked improvement in dependability and useful life versus conventional wood poles, particularly in coastal zones, where corrosion resistance is necessary to reduce the impact of sea water, salt, fog, and salt marsh soils. Additionally, their heavy weight adds increased resistance to high winds in open areas. But their use was not common when The Landings first started. An Internet search notes that Florida began using them in 1954, Oregon in 1962, and Virginia in 1964, but even in 1972, they were not to be found in Chatham County or anywhere else in Georgia.

In the early 1980’s, Branigar made a successful presentation on the merits of concrete poles to Arthur Gignilliat, then CEO of Savanah Electric and Power Company. (Savannah Electric was not acquired by Southern Company/Georgia Power until 1988.) Not only were the wood poles replaced, Union Camp agreed to relocate the power line easements deeper into the woods to help shield them from view. These poles were a first in Chatham County and Landings residents have now enjoyed the benefits of their dependability for the past 40 years.