Maintain ‘safe zone’ around equipment

Posted on Jun 28 2018 in Kankakee Valley REMC

Those big green boxes in many yards may not be particularly attractive, but they’re very important to ensuring you have a safe and reliable supply of electricity.

They’re what your REMC calls “pad-mount” transformers, and they work to bring power to you through underground power lines. Your cooperative has about 2,720 of these green boxes to maintain throughout the service territory. 

In many newer subdivisions and residential developments, overhead lines are not always an option. Burying power lines also reduces potential system damage from high winds and severe storms. While members seldom see our line crew working on transformers, unless there are power outages, they are regularly inspected by co-op crews. One of the biggest concerns and frequent problems that they find is not having safe access to the equipment when repairs or inspections are needed. Just as overhead power lines have right-of-way requirements for you to receive electrical service, so do underground lines. 

Pad-mount transformers need plenty of air circulation to keep them cool. If you put landscaping, such as shrubs, fences or flower beds next to them, you limit the air flow. This could cause the equipment to overheat, resulting in a service interruption. 

A rule of thumb is to keep at least 10 feet in front of the green box free of planting and structures, and keep at least five feet of open space on the sides and back. This will allow the necessary clearance for our crews to use the proper tools to safely check the equipment and perform maintenance. 

Over the next few months, crews will be performing maintenance on our underground equipment. If there are plants, landscaping, or other objects blocking these pad-mount transformers, crews will remove or cut them back, and we won’t replant or reimburse you the cost for the plants.

We don’t like to destroy plants, but we must ensure the safety and reliability of our equipment. Keeping the area clear will allow our crews to do their necessary work and not have to undo your hard work.