What to be aware of with underground equipment
When members think about how electricity is provided to their homes, they’re mostly familiar with the overhead lines. But what some may not know is that a large portion of PEC members have their homes and communities powered through underground (URD) equipment.
Some URD equipment can be seen above ground and is often planted on members’ properties. Most people don’t give this a second thought, but it is important for members to be aware of what it is, how it works, and who to call if they notice an issue.
Pad-mounted transformers are green or gray square metal boxes that sit on a concrete pad. These are the most notable pieces of equipment and can often be found in people’s yards or near businesses and provide power to buildings around them. The electricity moves from here to secondary enclosures through underground power distribution lines.
Pad-mounted transformers are safe to live near, but there are safety precautions. Read the tips below provided by our energy advisors.
- Do not let children play on or near pad-mounted transformers. If the box is damaged and showing openings, never stick anything through cracks into the transformer box.
- If you see a transformer that is unlocked or in need of repair, contact PEC immediately at 888-554-4732 or submit a service request through SmartHub.
- Show kids the warning sticker on the box and teach them what it means. This way, they will recognize the importance of the sticker wherever they see it.
- Never paint or decorate transformers. The metal covers are assigned a specific color (usually green) so utility workers can easily identify them. Also, tampering with the box by painting it could impair the lock, the equipment itself, or cover important signage. For safety, the pad-mounted transformer should always be locked and the warning signs visible.
- Underground power lines can extend in any direction from a pad-mounted transformer. Never dig without calling 800-344-8377 or visiting Texas811. At no cost, their staff will come to your location and mark all underground equipment.
- PEC lineworkers need at least 10 feet of clearance on the opening side of the box to safely access the transformer. It’s recommended that members do not plant trees or shrubs too close to pad-mounted transformers. Allowing 5 feet of space on the other sides gives PEC personnel room to maneuver away if a dangerous situation arises.
A common misconception is that, because the power moves underground, lightning, birds, or squirrels hitting overhead lines shouldn’t interrupt URD members. However, it’s important to know that pad-mounted transformers are powered by the electric lines above ground.
There are three types of secondary enclosures a member might encounter. The first is what crew workers typically refer to as “green handhelds.” These small, rounded objects are usually found in a member’s yard, and and power the meters on their homes.
Here is another form of secondary enclosure. This concrete door encases wires, which feed members’ meters and other lighting in the neighborhood.
The third form of secondary enclosure is what is referred to as a meter pedestal. Electricity is fed to these devices from pad-mounted transformers, which are different from the meters located on a member’s home. The meter on the pedestal has a main breaker underneath to protect service to the house and is generally located next to the street.
The meter pedestal will be the only meter a member has. PEC’s service stops at the metering point, so the member is responsible for the service to the house, which is where their home breaker panel is located. The breaker at the pedestal is also owned by the member, so if the power goes out, both locations need to be checked.
All these enclosures are PEC’s responsibility, and the precautions are much the same as that of a pad-mounted transformer. If you see a secondary enclosure that is unlocked or appears to need repair, contact PEC immediately at 888-554-4732 or submit a service request through SmartHub.
A meter located on the member’s house is what measures how much energy is being consumed inside.
While it’s attached to the member’s home, the device is PEC’s responsibility. If you experience issues with the meter, call PEC at 888-554-4732 or submit a service request through SmartHub.
What’s not PEC’s
In many instances, other types of equipment are located around PEC-owned equipment. Telecommunications and water utility infrastructure, as well as gas lines can often be found right next PEC utilities. The pictured items below are not owned by PEC.
This oblong, green object is part of a telecommunications service. If a member notices an issue with this, they should call their telecommunications provider (i.e., Verizon, AT&T, Charter, etc.)
These enclosures in the ground are irrigation control valves, and typically belong to the member’s irrigation company or municipality.
In this photograph, the only item that belongs to PEC is the green handheld secondary enclosure in the middle. The equipment around it is not PEC owned.
While this pipe once enclosed PEC line during construction of the home, it is no longer in use. If a member wants it removed from their land, they should call their builder.
While this metal light pole is powered by PEC, it belongs to the subdivision.
However, if the pole is damaged or down, the member should call PEC, and we will contact the appropriate person. If the light is out, then members should contact PEC.
For questions or other information regarding URD equipment, contact us at 888-554-4732.