Designing Electrical Overhead Distribution Lines

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Course Overview

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, the originally scheduled in-person offering has been rescheduled to an online course in January 2021. 

Learn how to manage risk, legal duties and liabilities involved with the design of electrical overhead distribution lines. You'll better understand electrical and mechanical characteristics, performance, and economic factors to select and apply overhead distribution conductors.

Who Should Attend?

  • Those who work in the areas of design, construction, operation, maintenance 
  • Anyone who utilizes safe work practices involving electrical overhead distribution lines in a utility, institutional, or industrial setting 
  • Engineers, technicians, designers, contractors, consultants, line workers, inspectors, safety personnel, supervisors, and others involved with electrical overhead distribution lines 

Additional Information

This class requires the National Electrical Safety Code® (NESC) 2017 code book. You will have the option to purchase a copy of the book or bring your own copy for use during class.

Course Outline

Introduction to Overhead Distribution Lines

  • Conductors, structures, equipment
  • Voltage, current, and power ratings
  • Electrical loading (normal and contingency)
  • National codes and standards
  • Rights-of-way and joint-use

Service Design Issues for End-Use Customers

  • Applicable third-party codes and standards
  • Customer electrical requirements and load characteristics
  • Customer expectations, service policies and standards
  • Service sizing and reliability

Introduction to the National Electrical Safety Code® (NESC)

  • NESC purposes, compliance, organization, and content 
  • NESC general requirements for overhead lines


  • Physical and electrical characteristics
  • Transverse, vertical, and tension loads
  • Sag and tension characteristics
  • Sag calculations with the ruling span

NESC Clearances

  • Between structures 
  • Conductors to ground, other conductors, buildings
  • Climbing and working spaces

Structure Loading

  • Determination of conductor weight span and wind span
  • Forces, moments and loading trees
  • NESC grades of construction
  • Structural loading and strength factors


  • Guying methods and requirements
  • Guy strand types, sizes and selection
  • Anchor types, sizes and selection
  • Pole attachments and insulation

Structure Types and Design

  • Wood, steel, concrete poles 
  • Structures and support arms
  • Selection of structures and structural components

Insulators and Insulation Coordination

  • Lightning characteristics and BIL ratings
  • Electrical, mechanical ratings of insulators
  • Lightning arresters and application


  • Purposes of grounding
  • NESC requirements
  • Grounding standards


"This course has been structured in a perfect manner, addressing every single important topic...very valuable."
—Gayan Herath, Grand River Dam Authority; Tulsa, Oklahoma

"Great instructor with a lot of knowledge. It was a good introduction into what goes into the correct product and material chosen for a project."
—Mark Skull, Menasha Utilities; Menasha, Wisconsin

"Guying calcs and clearance issues are a constant problem I face every day. The problems covered in class regarding these issues will help me make better engineering decisions."
—Brandon Carr, Distribution Engineer, Leidos; Reston, Virginia


R. John Miner

R. John Miner, PE, is president of Collaborative Learning, Inc. of Austin and San Antonio, Texas and has more than 40 years of experience in the electric utility industry. A course instructor for the University of Wisconsin for more than 20 years, Miner has conducted educational programs throughout the country and at several overseas locations. He earned a BS degree in electrical engineering with honors and an MS degree in engineering science from the University of Toledo.

Shalini Bhat

Shalini Bhat, PE, is a program director at the Office of Engineering Professional Development at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has over 15 years of experience in the power industry. Previously, she has worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Cooper Power Systems. Most recently, she was a Senior Distribution Protection Engineer for seven years at We Energies in Wisconsin.

Upcoming dates (1)

Jan. 25-29, 2021

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Program Director

Shalini Bhat


Create a custom learning experience

We can deliver this course as an on-site learning experience tailored to your organization’s specific training needs.