Cooperative News

Get familiar with what’s on the ground

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 equipment 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

Starting with pad-mounted transformers, these green or gray, square objects are probably the most notable pieces of equipment. These can often be found in people’s yards, or near businesses, and they provide power to the buildings around it. The electricity moves from here to secondary enclosures through underground power distribution lines.

Padmounted transformer.

These objects are safe to live near, but energy advisors have provided safety precautions.

  • 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 know 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 the warning signs. 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 to safely access the transformer, so it is recommended that members do not plant trees or shrubs too close to pad-mounted transformers. Allowing 5 feet of space on the other sides allows them space to maneuver away if a dangerous situation arises.

Transformer covered with bushes.

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 overhead feeds the underground. The pad-mounted transformers are powered by the electric utility poles above ground.

Secondary enclosures

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 they power the members’ meters on their homes.

Secondary enclosure known as a green handheld.

Here is another form of secondary enclosure. This concrete door encases wires, which feed members’ meters and other lighting in the neighborhood.

Secondary enclosure underground

The third form of secondary enclosure is what is referred to as a meter pedestal. Electricity is fed to these from the pad-mounted transformers. These are different from the meters located on a member’s home, as the meter on the pedestal has a main breaker under it to protect the service to the house and is generally located next to the street.

This 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, and if the power goes out, they should check both locations.

Meter pedestal.

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.

Home meters

A meter located on the member’s house is what measures how much energy is being consumed inside.

Meter on home.

While it is on 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, PEC-owned equipment is located around other types of equipment that aren’t owned by PEC. 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 your telecommunications service. If a member notices an issue with this, they should call their telecommunications provider (i.e., Verizon, AT&T, Charter, etc.)

Object that belongs to your telecommunications service.

These enclosures in the ground are irrigation control valves, and typically belong to the member’s irrigation company or municipality.

Irrigation control valve.

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.

Items not owned by PEC other than the green handheld.

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.

Temporary pipe

While this metal light pole is powered by PEC, it belongs to the subdivision.

Light pole.

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.