World’s Most Bizarre Power Line Structures

Transmission Structures

There’s an expression: ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Obviously, not everyone will agree that something is particularly beautiful or particularly offensive. Nonetheless, when it comes to aesthetics, there are certain norms such that probably 90 per cent of us find something is agreeable to look at or not. These norms cover design elements such as symmetry, shape, style and proportion.

That said, INMR presents its selection of the most bizarre power structures seen over its nearly 30 years reporting on overhead lines across the globe. These are referred to as ‘bizarre’ so as not to offend too much, but one could equally say they are lacking any aesthetic appeal.

Why is this relevant to an industry where key benchmarks in line design have traditionally been cost, life expectancy and reliability? It is relevant because the current public distaste for overhead lines is a direct result of how power lines have looked in the past and how they continue to look today. If there is to be any hope of obtaining approvals for much needed new overhead lines in coming years, visual impact will have to rank high on the checklist of requirements.

To balance this article, next week, INMR WEEKLY TECHNICAL REVIEW will present its selection of power line structures that deserve a winning grade from the perspective of aesthetics.


This suburban line running near Vancouver, Canada manages to take the normally unobtrusive line post design and transform it into something most would prefer were located somewhere else.
Fortunately, this oversized tennis racket is a ‘one-off’ structure. Oddly, it has been reported that the utility designed it with the express goal of obtaining planning permission from a town council in Switzerland. The concept of a structure encircling conductors can be visually pleasing. Just not the way it was accomplished here.

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This unwieldy 500 kV structure passing rural areas of China’s Yunnan Province manages to tick off most of the features that make a transmission tower painful to look at, including top-heavy elements as well as an unharmonious lack of symmetry.
One can find this structure in the unlikely location of Hollywood, California, which ironically has made a name for itself by promoting beauty. Looking like a prop from the movie Frankenstein, it is a relic that is probably better in a museum than on highly travelled public thoroughfares.
Reportedly, the inspiration for this unsightly line in Finland came to the designer in a dream. Better he had not slept that night.

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This eyesore runs past pastoral farms and scenic vineyards in France. Everything about it is aesthetically wrong, from the vast amount of sky it consumes to its clumsy proportions and protrusions.
These massive transmission towers support a severe drop of conductors for the nearby Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona. Built in the 1950s, they may have represented the pinnacle of structural engineering at the time but stand today as potent symbols of how a much-travelled beautiful landscape can be despoiled by power lines.
Not to be outdone by the towers shown above, this odd assembly of phase-supporting structures is located alongside a major highway in Romania. A triumph of function over appearance.
Pity the poor people living in this hamlet. Yes, transposition towers are sometimes a technical necessity. But such a monumental assembly of steel and porcelain placed directly on top of homes?

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Carrying 220 kV circuits through a heavily populated area outside Shenzhen, China, this incredibly cluttered design succeeds in obscuring every corner of view.
About this structure near Oslo, Norway, one can only wonder: ‘what were they thinking?’

Editor’s Note: Next week, INMR will present potent examples that show power line structures can succeed in complementing, not damaging, their surroundings.

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