Keep padmount transformers clear, debris-free, and accessible

Courtesy Okanogan PUD An open padmount transformer and “hot stick” were on display at last year’s Okanogan County Fair.

Editor’s note: Following is the second of four weekly columns by Okanogan PUD Public Relations Coordinator Sheila Corson in observance of Electricity Safety Month featuring tips about powerline safety, padmount transformers, outages and meters. This information can also be round on the PUD Facebook page.

OKANOGAN - Most of us have probably been guilty of setting something on top of one, or leaning things against it, or forgetting it exists entirely, but let us work toward treating our padmount transformers like the critical electrical equipment they are.

Those “green electrical boxes” alongside sports fields, in yards, in parking lots and other places have around 10,000 volts pushing through them. Like the transformers (large metal cylinders, usually gray) on some power poles, the padmount transformers take the high-voltage electricity from powerlines and “transform” it to a lower voltage that homes and businesses can use.

On any given day, a utility worker might need to access that padmount transformer – maybe there is an outage or the transformer needs to be replaced. It is important to make sure they can do so without any difficulty. Stay safe and keep transformers clear.

1. Keep at least 10 feet clear on the front side of the transformer. When utility workers access it, they use what some call a “hot stick” to open it and cut the power (see photo.). Less than 10 feet makes their work unsafe or impossible to do.

2. Keep at least two feet or more clearance on all sides of the transformer. This is again partly for access, but also because if plants or other combustible items are up against them, it could be a fire hazard.

3. Keep the top clear. Do not put anything on top of a transformer or try to cover it with something. We have even found them buried – please give your transformer the space it needs to be accessible and reduce the risk of anything going wrong.

Again, keep in mind that if we need to access it quickly, anything that obstructs our access will have to be removed, including plants, fencing, etc. Public safety could be at risk, so please, keep padmount transformers clear.

Next week: Outages



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