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Pad-mounted transformers, those big green utility boxes commonly seen around town, serve the purpose of lowering high voltage to standard household voltage used to power electronics, appliances and lighting. These transformers are not protected in the way overhead lines and substations are. Though they may appear safe to use as workbenches and climbing obstacles, electrical equipment can still pose a risk to anyone who may come in contact with them. Members should always use caution and keep a safe distance.

United Power crews also need safe access for repairs and maintenance. Barriers, such as landscaping and fencing, should be kept clear of electrical equipment. While it may be tempting to “camouflage” transformers with landscaping, please remember cooperative crews need at least 10-feet of clearance at the opening of a pad-mounted transformer and four-feet at the rear and sides of the housing. The distance allows crews to safely use tools required for working with energized equipment. It also ensures crews have the ability to move about safely should problems arise.

In many newer subdivisions and residential developments pad-mounted transformers are more common – and in many cases are located on consumer property. These transformers are connected to primary high voltage lines, and secondary lines can extend from the transform in several directions underground. Remember this before planting shrubs or trees, setting fence posts, installing sprinkler systems or digging anywhere near a transformer. And remember, you should always dial 811 before you dig to ensure lines are located so your project doesn’t disrupt utility service, cause serious injury or worse.