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Evolution of IEC 60826 "Loading and Strength of Overhead Lines"

Elias Ghannoum1


This paper provides an overview of IEC Publication No. 60826 (old number IEC 826)
entitled 'Loading and Strength of Overhead lines'. This publication has been a
milestone in the introduction of improved structural design criteria of overhead
transmission lines based on reliability methods. Originally published by IEC in 1991
as a technical report type II (i.e. a pre-standard phase), this document was then
extensively reviewed by CIGRI~ and IECfrC11/WG08, and a revised version of this
document is currently being circulated to National Committees of IEC/TCll for
adoption as an IEC Standard.

This IEC publication specifies loadings and strengths requirements of overhead lines
derived from reliability-based design principles. It is based on the concept whereby a
transmission line is designed as a system made of components such as supports,
foundations, conductors and insulator strings. This approach enables to coordinate the
strengths of components within the system taking into account the fact that in such a
series system, the failure of any component could lead to the loss of power
transmitting capability. It is expected that this approach should lead to an overall
economical design without undesirable mismatch between strengths of line

Many improvements were introduced in the revised version of IEC 60926 (IEC 2002)
such as: dividing the document into a normative section containing all requirements
and another section consisting of a commentary to the document and technical
annexes, providing default load and strength factors when statistical data are scarce,

1 Eng., M.Sc.; Fellow IEEE, ChairmanIEC/TC11/WG08,Consultant,Chairholder, Hydro-Quebec

Chair on OverheadTransmissionLines, Departmentof Civil Engineering,Universit6of Sherbrooke,
Qu6beeJ1K 2R1;phone1-514-3444127;


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improvements/simplifications to some loading requirements that existed in the

previous version, but may not control the design, etc.

The IEC 60826 has already been used in many national standards (ex. CSA C22.3, ex.
IS 802, 2002, CENELEC) and utility practices, and has proven to be an essential tool
for those migrating toward the more efficient and economical Reliability Based
Design (RBD) concepts.


During the last decades, the IEC (Intemational Electrotechnical Commission)

Committee T C l l and CIGRE Study Committee SC22 pioneered improvement of
overhead transmission lines design criteria as well as the introduction of
reliability/probabilitybased design concepts (Ghannoum, 1986), (CIGRI~ 1990).

A milestone of this evolution occurred in 1991 when the IEC 826 document entitled
"Loading and Strength of Overhead Lines" was published (IEC, 1991). This
document introduced reliability and probabilistic concepts for calculation of loading
and strength requirements for overhead lines components. This document was
published as a technical report type 2, i.e. a pre-standard document that will be
reviewed in a few years for the purpose of converting it to an IEC standard.

When document IEC 826 was published, IEC asked CIGRE to prepare application
examples of this document and to simplify it for an eventual conversion to the status
of an IEC international standard. The CIGRE task was completed in 1998 and a
revised/simplified version of IEC 826 (now IEC 60826) was sent by CIGRE SC22 to
IEC T C l l .

The new version of IEC 60826 (IEC, 2002) is currently being circulated for vote (as
of May 2002) to National Committees members of IEC/TC11.

This paper provides an overview of IEC and CIGRt~ work and summarizes the main
features of IEC 60826.

The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission)

Founded in 1906, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is the global

organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical,
electronic and related technologies. The membership consists of more than 60
participating countries, including all the world's major trading nations and a growing
number of industrializing countries.

The mission of IEC is to promote, through its members, international cooperation on

all questions of electrotechnical standardization and related matters, such as the
assessment of conformity to standards in the fields of electricity, electronics and
related technologies.

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The definition given in all IEC standards reads: "A normative document, developed
according to consensus procedures, which has been approved by the IEC National
Committee members of the responsible committee in accordance with Part 1 of the
ISO/IEC Directives as a committee draft for vote and as a final draft International
Standard and which has been published by the IEC Central Office."
Adoption of IEC standards by any country, whether it is a member of the
Commission or not, is entirely voluntary.

What is CIGRE

CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) is a permanent non-

governmental and non profit-making International Association based in France. It
was founded in 1921 and aims to:
9 Facilitate and develop the exchange of engineering knowledge and
information, between engineering personnel and technical specialists in all
countries as regards generation and high voltage transmission of electricity.
9 Add value to the knowledge and information exchanged by synthesizing state-
of-the-art and world practices.
9 Make managers, decision-makers and regulators aware of the synthesis of
CIGRE's work, in the area of electric power.

More specifically, issues related to the planning and operation of power systems, as
well as the design, construction, maintenance and disposal of HV equipment and
plants are at the core of CIGRE's Mission.

Relationship between CIGRE and IEC

Many IEC publications and standards originated from CIGRE technical work. It is
generally the practice that CIGRE develops new technical work until such work
reaches technical consensus and maturity. Once this stage is reached, the resulting
work may be used by IEC as a basis for preparation of a new standard or revising an
existing one.

The cooperation between IEC and CIGRE is obvious in the development and revision
of IEC 60826 as explained in this paper (CIGRt~ 1990).

Objectives of IEC 60826

When developed, IEC 60826 was oriented to correct some identified shortcomings of
safety factor methods such as (Ghannoum, 1984):
9 Possible inconsistencies and unbalance in strengths of components
9 Unknown reliability level (except by general inference from experience)
9 Difficulty to adjust overall line reliability
9 Difficulty to design composite structures (steel and wood for example)
9 Difficulty to evolve with new technologies
9 Difficulty to adjust design to local conditions

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Difficulty to control the sequence in which line components fail in case a

failure event is triggered (for example: Ultimate capacity of foundations could
be less that the supported tower, or a critical angle tower may fail before a less
critical tangent tower).

Main features of IEC 60826

IEC 60826 specifies the loadings and strengths requirements of overhead lines
derived from Reliability Based Design (RBD) principles. It also provides a
framework for the preparation of National overhead transmission lines Standards
using reliability concepts and employing probabilistic or semi-probabilistic methods.
However, National Standards still need to establish the local climatic data for the use
and application of this standard.

The design criteria in IEC 60826, although intended to apply to new lines, they can
also be used to address the reliability requirements for refurbishment and uprating of
existing lines.

It is noted that IEC60826 does not cover the detailed design of line components such
as towers, foundations, conductors or insulators. Nevertheless it provides loading and
strength requirements that allow a coordinated and consistent design between these
Basis of load-strength relation in IEC 60826
A major breakthrough in probability methods occurred when a relation that leads to
an almost constant probability of failure, was uncovered between load and strength
(Ghannoum 1983, 1986). This relation is:
QT = (10%)R, or
Load with a return period T = Strength met with 90% probability (or having a 10%
exclusion limit).

The above relation was found to give consistent reliability (or probability of survival
Ps) almost equal to (1 - 1/2T ), with a typical range of (1 - 1/T ) to ( 1 - 1/2T ). These
results remain valid for various distributions of load curves Q such as extreme type
(Gumbel), log-normal and Frechet, as well as for Normal and log-Normal strength R
distributions. Refer to Figure 1 for the case where T = 50 years and the coefficient of
variation (COV) Q was varied from 12 to 50%.

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Figure 1- Failure probability Pf = (1 - Ps) for various values of Q and R, for T =

50 years, Q is extreme type I and R is Normal.

System design
IEC 60826 design methodology is based on the concept whereby a transmission line
is designed as a system made of components such as supports, foundations,
conductors and insulator strings. This approach enables to coordinate the strengths of
components within the system taking into account the fact that in such a series
system, the failure of any component could lead to the loss of power transmitting
capability. It is expected that this approach should lead to an overall economical
design without undesirable mismatch between strengths of line components.
Design methodology o( IEC 60826
The design methodology as per IEC60826 can be summarized in the Figure 2 (note
that the activities (a) and (h) listed in this figure are not parts of the scope of IEC

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Figure 2- Transmission line design methodology according to IEC 60826

Source of design requirements

The design according to IEC60826 (see boxes bl, b2 and b3 in Figure 2) originates
from the following requirements:
9 Reliability: These requirements consist of climatic loads (wind, ice,
temperature and their combinations) and aim to provide lines with satisfactory
service performance. Statistical tools are used to quantify these loads.
9 Security: These requirements aim to prevent or reduce risk of uncontrollable
or cascading failures.
9 Safety: These requirements aim to prevent human injury.
Reliability levels
Three Reliability levels (I, II, III) are provided in IEC 60826. These levels correspond
to return periods of design loads of 50, 150 and 500 years. In general,
9 Level I is considered minimum for all permanent lines
9 Level II applies to lines with voltages equal or exceeding 230 kV
9 Level III applies to important lines in excess of 230 kV that are a unique
source of supply.
Security requirements
Security requirements relate to behavior of lines once failure is initiated. They aim to
prevent uncontrolled propagation of failures (cascading). In such case, components

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are allowed to be reach stresses very close to their ultimate limit state. It is noted that
in IEC 60826, security is a deterministic concept, while reliability is probabilistic.

Security and reliability requirements are interrelated because both tend to increase
strength of components. Security measures, if more critical than climatic loads
(reliability requirements), can also increase reliability.
Safety requirements
These are required to protect people from injury. They consist of construction and
maintenance loads. It is aimed that the probability of failure under such loads should
be very low.
Design equation, general format
Load effect < Strength or,
QT < Rc or,
Load corresponding to a return period T < Characteristic strength Rc

The above equation has been expanded in the document to the form below:
YQT = ~R Rc, where,
y factor for span dispersion, default value equal to 1.0
QT load corresponding to a return period T
% global strength factor equal to the product of ~S * ~N * ~Q * ~C
~s factor related to coordination of strength (sequence of failure)
% factor related to number N of components
I~Q factor related to the difference between tested and installed component
~c factor related to the statistical parameters of the characteristic strength

It is important to note that the load QT shall be the maximum along the space covered
by the line. Furthermore, not only the maximum load intensity is important, but also
its spatial coverage, as both affect design requirements and line reliability. Directional
tendencies of wind or ice loads can be taken into account if confirmed; otherwise, it
should be assumed that load direction always occurs in the most critical direction.
Loading conditions and limit states
Limit states of strength of line components are defined for each component: a damage
limit state (serviceability) and a failure (ultimate) limit state. Each group of loading
requirements is associated with one of the limits states given below:


Reliability climatic, ice, wind, wind + ice, with a damage limit
return period T
Security failure limit (torsional and longitudinal) Failure limit
Safety construction and maintenance loads damage limit

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Differences between theoretical and actual reliabilities

IEC 60826 recognizes that the actual reliability may differ from the theoretical
reliability when factors such the ones listed below are not accounted for:
9 Actual use factors of components as opposed to assuming them equal to 1.0
9 The degree of correlation between loads and strengths
9 Direction of wind speed in relation to that of the line
9 Exclusion limit of strength different from the assumed 10%
9 Number of components subjected to maximum load intensity
9 Quality control during fabrication and construction

Methods to take into account the above factors are covered in the subject document.
Use factor of components
Use factor in IEC 60826 is defined as the ratio of the actual load (as built) to the limit
design load of a component. For tangent towers, it is virtually equal to the ratio of
actual to maximum design spans (wind or weight) and for angle towers, it also
includes the ratio of the sines of the half angles of deviation (actual to design angles).

Use factor cannot exceed 1.0 and its influence on line reliability has been covered in
the Document. The Use factor variation in overhead lines is inevitable because of the
following reasons:
9 Line components are mass fabricated
9 Components are not specifically designed for each tower location or use
9 Their design parameters reflect maximum usage along the line
9 Effective loads on line components are location dependent (span and tower
height at each location)

Globally, the use factor variation should increase reliability. However, a large
dispersion of U may be an indication of a poor optimization (e.g. not enough tangent
tower types or their parameters incorrectly selected). It is important to recognize that
the preferred sequence of failure could also be altered if the use factor is not taken
into account.
The Characteristic strength Rc_
IEC 60826 makes reference to the characteristic strength which is defined as the
strength value guaranteed in relevant Standards. Sometimes, it is also called the
guaranteed strength, the minimum strength, or the minimum failing load, and usually
corresponds to an exclusion limit, from 2 to 5%, with 10% being an upper practical
(and conservative) limit.

The strength distribution function is usually Normal (Gaussian). With stringent

quality control, it tends to become a Log-normal function.

The characteristic strength can thus be calculated from the following equation,
assuming it corresponds to a 10% exclusion limit:

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Rc = (10%) R = R ( 1 - k VR), where

k = 1,28 for Normal distribution
k = 1,08 to 1,26 for Log-normal distribution

In case the maximum intensity of load is widespread and covers a large number (N)
of structures, the strength distribution becomes that of chain or a series of N
components whose strength is controlled by the weakest. Although the original
distribution of strength can be Normal, that of the series of N structures will tend to
be an Extreme (minima) type. Correction factors are provided in order to take into
account the effect of the spatial coverage of the maximum load event on reliability
(~N factor).
Strength coefficient ~ related to sequence of failure
In IEC 60826, line components can be designed to fail (with a 90% probability) in a
preferred mode called "preferred sequence of failure". The best (or least damaging)
failure mode is the one where the consequences of the first failure on the line are
minimized. Strength factors allowing targeting a preferred sequence of failure are
provided in the document. It is generally accepted that angle towers, dead-end towers,
conductors or foundations should not fail first, thus leaving tangent towers as the one
to fail first. The following table specifies the strength factors applicable to the
strength of the component not to fail first.
Table 1 - Values of ~)S

Coefficient of Variation (COV) of R1

5% 7,5% 10% 20%
COV of 0,05-0,10 0,92 0,87 0,82 0,63
R2 0,10-0,40 0,94 0,89 0,86 0,66
Note: in the above Table, R2 is the component designed more reliable than R1
Wind loads and limitations of wind calculations
Wind loads on conductors and tower structures are the source of important and
critical loading requirement for overhead transmission lines. Methods to calculate
wind forces starting with a reference wind speed are provided in the document for the
following conditions:
9 Spans between 200 m and 800 m
9 Height of supports less than 60 m
9 Altitude below 1300 m
Ground roughness
For the purpose of calculating wind pressure and forces, four (4) categories of ground
roughness (also called terrain types) are provided:
9 A- Flat coastal areas and deserts
9 B- Open country, cultivated fields
9 C- Numerous low height obstacles
9 D- Suburban areas

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Reference wind velocity

The reference wind velocity V R considered in IEC 60826 consists of a 10 min.
average, at 10 m height, in a terrain type B. The document provides for conversion
from other wind data, having different averages or located in a different terrain
category, to the above reference value
Wind speed design cases
High wind is combined with average minimum daily temperatures and a reduced
wind (60% of the reference value) is combined with the 50 year minimum
Wind load model
The conversion from wind speed to forces follows the equation:
Load = k (V2 9V2), where k is the product of:
9 height factor
9 span factor
9 response factor
9 shape factor

In IEC 60826, the k factor in the above equation takes the form of:
Wind force = A Cx Gc ( V29 V2 ), with
Gc = the combined wind factor dependent on spans, height and terrain roughness
Cx = Drag (or force) coefficient
9 is the air mass per unit volume = 1,225 kg/m3 (this is a default value, but
adjustments of p to different temperatures and altitudes are provided.

A similar equation provides for calculation of wind forces applied to various types of
transmission structures such as those made of angle sections, round pipe sections or
steel poles. Drag coefficients are also provided for these tower types and take into
account the compactness (or solidity ratio) of the windward face to reflect the
shielding of wind on the leeward face.
Validation of lEC60826 wind model
IEC wind load calculations (or wind model) have been satisfactorily validated. The
results of some experimental validations can be found in "Houle, Hardy, and
Ghannoum (1991)" and "EPRI, TR-104480".
Icing types
Ice accretion on conductors and structures are the source of important loads, and often
control the design in many northern countries. The document covers three types of ice
accretion: precipitation icing, wet snow, and in-cloud icing. Methods to calculate
design icing are provided and cover a range of cases with various availabilities of
statistical data.

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Ice loading cases

Once design ice thickness or weight per unit length of conductors has been
statistically defined, this value is used in the following loading cases:
9 Uniform ice formation
9 Non uniform ice (longitudinal unbalanced icing, with all phases in a span
subjected to the same unbalanced conditions)
9 Torsional condition (unbalanced icing conditions occurring in opposite
longitudinal directions thus creating a torsional moment on the structure)
Combined ice loads with wind
The presence of wind during or after icing episodes requires special loading cases and
combinations of ice and wind loads in order to account for their combined effects.

The calculation of combined forces due wind on ice covered conductors are provided
in the document and take into account: the ice thickness or ice weight per unit length
of conductor, ice density, wind speed during icing, and drag coefficient of ice covered

Three combinations of: ice, wind speed during icing, ice density/drag coefficient are
provided for in the document and consist of combining an extreme value of one
variable (such as the 50 year value) with average values of the other variables.
Construction and maintenance loads (safety requirements)
The loading conditions provided in the IEC document supplement National
Regulations and safety codes. They are focused on reducing the risk of injuries to
personnel working during construction and maintenance of the lines. These
requirements should result in a very high reliability (risk of failure practically nil).
The approach to deal with such loads is deterministic and consists of applying
overload factors of 1.5 to 2.0 in order to insure such a high reliability. These loads are
not usually combined with climatic loads, because construction and maintenance
operations are not commonly undertaken during strong weather events.

For example, loads during erection of supports are simulated by designing each
support point for twice the static loads at sagging conditions. Under some conditions,
and under controlled construction operations, the factor of 2.0 could be reduced to
Security related loads
As explained earlier, these loads are intended to prevent cascading or uncontrollable
failures. Minimum requirements are specified as follows:

9 A broken phase load (torsional load) is applied on any one phase or g/w
attachment point, and is equivalent to the Residual Static load (RSL)
calculated with bare conductors at average temperatures.
9 A longitudinal load is specified, equivalent to a simulated fictitious ice load
equal to the conductor weight applied on one side of the tower.

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For lines that require a higher security level, additional security measures can be
considered such as: Increasing the number of points where the RSL is applied,
Considering the RSL in conjunction with some climatic load, and/or inserting anti-
cascading towers.
Limit states of conductors and ground wires
An example of limit states of strength of conductors and ground wires is provided in
Table 2.
Table 2 - Damage and failure limits of conductors and ground wires
Types Damage limit Failure limit
lowest of :
- Vibration limit, or
All types - the infringement of critical clearances defined by Ultimate tensile
appropriate regulations, or stress (rupture)
- 75% of the characteristic strength or rated tensile
strength (typical range in 70 % to 80 %)
Limit states of interface components
An example of strength limit states of interface components is provided in Error!
Not a valid bookmark self-reference.

Table 3 - Damage and failure limit of interface components

Type of interface Damage Umit2 Failure limit
Cable connectors: Dead- Unacceptable permanent Rupture
end and junction fittings deformation or slippage
and Suspension fittings
Insulators (porcelain and 70 % strength rating or broken Rupture of pin, cap,
glass) shed (glass only) cement or shed
Hardware Critical3 permanent deformation Rupture of hardware
or shear of bolts
limilarities between IEC 60826 and ASCE 74
Both documents represent
9 Similar design philosophy of reliability, security and safety criteria.
9 Both treat load and strength as random variables
9 The design equation (load-strength relation) is similar in format
9 Reliability levels are expressed in return periods of design loads

2 Normally, hardware is designed in a manner to reduce or eliminate wear. Should wear be expected
because of point to point contact, it should be considered in the design. In such case, the damage limit
becomes: exceeding the excepted wear.
3 Defined as the state where the hardware cannot be easily taken apart.

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9 The 50 year load is considered a reference minimum load requirement

9 Wind model in both documents are similarly based on the Davenport model
9 Both approaches coordinate the strength of components
Differences between IEC and ASCE
9 The ASCE is component based, while IEC is system (line) based
9 Reliabilities in ASCE are now referred to as relative reliabilities, but in both
IEC and ASCE, return periods of loads are used.
9 Load data used in IEC relate to the space or the area covered by the line while
ASCE is based on point data
9 Fastest mile statistics in early version of ASCE (now 3 second gust) are used
versus 10 min average wind speed in IEC.
9 Combinations of wind and ice loads are somehow different

New version of IEC60821i

Based on CIGRE recommendations and IEC/TC11/WG08 review, a revised version

of this document is being circulated to National Committees for adoption as an IEC
standard (refer to IEC 60826, 2002). The main changes in this document compared to
the earlier 1991 version are summarized hereafter:
Structure of revised IEC 826
The document in now split in two parts: The first part contains design requirements
and is Normative. Efforts were made in this part to delete requirements that do not
control the design. The second part is informative and contains commentary,
explanations and useful annexes related to the first part. This revised document, takes
into account the comments received on the 1991 version from CIGRI~ and National
Committees of IEC.
Main features introduced in the revised 1EC 60826
9 In the revised version, users can either determine the load corresponding to a
return period T from statistical data or apply load factors to the 50 year loads
if the latter are provided in National Standards.
9 The values of strength factor d~ and Rc are now provided for two assumptions
of strength distributions: Normal and log-Normal distributions.
9 Air density correction factors are now provided for the purpose of calculating
wind forces on towers and conductors for various combinations of altitudes
and temperatures.
9 The gust response factors Gc have been simplified and all the values of Gc
can now be obtained graphically from one Figure.
9 The span effect on wind load was previously included in the gust response
factor, but it is now provided separately as span factor GL
9 In case statistical data for strength of components are not available, default
values of COV's are provided.

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This paper summarizes the background, key features of and the evolution of
document IEC 60826 that provides for: a) a design methodology based on reliability
concepts, b) more consistent design that targets a minimum reliability, and c) avoids
mismatch between line components.

Local weather conditions are taken into account during the design process, and tools
are provided in order to increase reliability and security if warranted either by the
importance of the line or by local conditions.

This document should provide for more economical design for a given target
reliability compared to safety factor methods or, inversely, should provide for a
higher reliability for given limit loads.

The IEC 60826 has been integrated to many international standards (ex. IS 802, CSA
C22.3, 2002, CENELEC and utility practices and represents a major contribution to
the international trend in migrating toward reliability based design concepts in
overhead line design.


IEC/60826 - Ed. 2.0 (1991): Loading and strength of overhead transmission lines,
June 1991.

Houle, S., Hardy, C., and Ghannoum, E. (1991), "Static and Dynamic Testing of
Transmission Lines Subjected to Real Wind Conditions", CIGRI~ Symposium on
Compact Overhead Lines, Leningrad, June 1991.

Electric Power Research Institute Report, "Conductor Wind Loading - Results of

EPRI Field Validation studies" EPRI, TR-104480.

GHANNOUM, E., Orawski, G. (1986), "Reliability Based Design of Transmission

Lines According to Recent Advances by IEC and CIGR]~", International Symposium
of Probabilistic Design of Transmission Lines, Toronto, June 1986.

GHANNOUM, E. (1983), "Probabilistic Design of Transmission Lines - Part I :

Probability Calculations and Structural Reliability", IEEE/PES 1983 Winter Meeting,

GHANNOUM, E. (1983), "Probabilistic Design of Transmission Lines - Part II

Design Criteria Corresponding to a Target Reliability", IEEE/PES 1983 Winter
Meeting, New-York.

GHANNOUM, E., (1984) "Improving Transmission Line Design by Using

Reliability Techniques", IEEE/PES 1984 Winter Meeting, Dallas.

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ASCE Manual 74 (1991), Guidelines for Electrical Transmission Line Structural

Loading, 1991

IEC 60826 Ed.3, (2002), 'Design criteria of overhead transmission lines',

11/165A/CDV, March 2002.

CIGRI~ WG06, (1990), 'Loading and strength of overhead transmission lines',

Electra No. 129, March 1990.

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