Keep those big, green boxes clear of obstacles

Keep those big, green boxes clear of obstacles

They’re big. They’re green. They might be in your yard, and you need to stay away from them.

We’re not talking about a giant insect or other creature that might harm you. Instead, we’re referring to our pad-mount transformers or what some people refer to as “electrical boxes.”

Transformer clearance graphic

These transformers play an important role in distributing electricity through underground power lines, which many people prefer to improve aesthetics in their neighborhood. While this eliminates utility poles and overhead wires, it requires installing pad-mount transformers so high-voltage electricity can safely be brought to a lower voltage to power your home.

Our line crews need easy access to the transformers so they can inspect the equipment, perform routine maintenance, and repair problems as they arise. During inspections workers frequently find that members have built fences or planted flowers and shrubs around the transformers to hide them from view, said Chris Tullar, south operations manager.

“We realize landscaping represents an investment of time and money,” he said. “We respect the effort and care our members invest in making their properties attractive. But fences or landscaping around electrical equipment interferes with our ability to deliver reliable power.”

Rock Energy requires at least 10 feet of clearance in front of pad-mount transformers and 4 feet on the other sides. Members can easily identify the front of the unit by looking for the warning label.

That distance allows for tool use, including hot sticks, which are 8 feet long. The hot sticks allow lineworkers to make repairs on transformers while they are energized so members don’t experience an interruption in service. Workers also need the space so they can back away if problems occur.

When workers can’t access a transformer for inspection or routine maintenance, they often leave a note advising that the vegetation, fence, or other obstacle needs to be removed. However, if workers are responding to a power outage that requires immediate access, they will do the work themselves. That can slow down power restoration.

“We appreciate members’ cooperation in keeping the transformer in their yards unobstructed,” Tullar said. “This helps us in our mission to provide safe and reliable electricity.”

Here are some other safety reminders related to pad-mount transformers:

  • Never dig near them because they are surrounded by underground cables. Hitting a cable could result in electrical shock or disruption of service. Always call 811 before you dig.
  • Make sure children know to never touch, climb, or play on the equipment. Tell them never to put fingers, sticks, or other objects through openings in the transformer box.
  • Report any problems to Rock Energy. If you notice anything amiss, like an unlocked transformer or one that has been damaged, please call us at 866-752-4550.

Transformer clearance

 

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