Manager’s Message — March 2022

The distribution system of United Electric Co-op Inc. (UEC) delivers electricity to your home or business through overhead or underground wires. Important components of the electrical system are transformers that step higher voltage electricity down, so it’s safer for use in our homes.

Where overhead lines are present, transformers are mounted on utility poles. However, in many subdivisions, power lines are buried underground, requiring pad-mount transformers that often look like big green boxes.

Transformer enclosures that connect power lines look surprisingly simple inside—wires come in and go out through the equipment—but they transmit a lot of electricity and have the same potential for danger as overhead lines.

Only expert lineworkers and technicians should be near these facilities. It might be infrequent to see linemen working on the transformers unless a power outage has occurred, but they are regularly inspected by co-op crews driving through neighborhoods.

UEC employees need at least 10 feet of clearance at the opening side of a padmount transformer, and a minimum of 3 feet at the rear and on the sides of the metal housing. That distance allows room for tools used to work with energized equipment. Pad-mount transformers are connected to primary high-voltage lines, and secondary lines can extend in several directions to distribute power to homes and businesses.

Check with UEC before working near transformers, including planting shrubs or trees, setting fence posts, installing sprinkler systems, and digging where it might damage underground lines. If you see damaged or open transformers, please notify UEC immediately.

For everyone’s safety, never sit, stand or allow children to play on or around pad-mount transformers. Remember to always call 811 to have underground wires located and marked before digging near utility equipment. Your safety depends on it!

Michael Darrington