System Reliability
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Underground Power Lines and Equipment

About 45% of Union Power’s active lines (approximately 2,500 miles) are underground. Nearly 90% of new lines being installed are underground lines. Though these lines are not as affected by storms and ice, their installation takes more time, and equipment/construction is generally more expensive. In addition, specialized equipment is needed to maintain and repair underground lines. Because of their location, underground lines may take longer to repair during outages.

Underground lines are buried from 30-42 inches beneath the surface. However, these distances can change if additional grading is done to the property after installation is completed.

Underground Electrical Equipment - Reliability & Safety

Underground electric equipment services homes and businesses with electric power. Limited access to these pieces of important equipment slows down power restoration and creates unsafe working conditions for linemen. Cleared access to electrical equipment results in quicker restoration of power during outages and aids our crews in performing necessary maintenance and repairs.

Union Power personnel regularly inspect all underground electrical equipment in our five-county service area. Homeowners may or may not be notified of items blocking access to our equipment. Union Power personnel will conduct all discretionary cutting necessary and remove cut material from property.

Before digging near underground electrical equipment, call the NC One Call Center at 811! It's the law and could save your life. A professional locator will be sent, free of charge, to locate and mark underground utility lines on your property. A 30-inch buffer is required on either side of marked line. Additions such as concrete, cobblestone, or brick patios, swimming pools, decks, or outbuildings such as sheds and garages also require that homeowners call NC One Call Center to ensure that additions are clear of underground utility lines. If planning major additions, homeowners should also call our office - our personnel will be glad to meet with them to advise the best way to proceed.

Our goal is to ensure our system’s reliability and the safety of Union Power personnel and members.

Just as blocking a fire hydrant is a safety hazard, so is blocking access to electrical equipment. For example, in the event of a house fire, our crews would quickly need to locate and shut off any electrical equipment feeding into the home before firefighters could begin to extinguish the fire. Time spent searching for or trying to access a transformer could result in further loss of property or even life. Proactive, preventative maintenance by our personnel and homeowners benefits everyone.

When considering the design of landscaping near electrical equipment, keep in mind these clearance and safety guidelines:

  • Always maintain clearance of 10 feet in front of the transformer (side with the lock) and 4 feet from all other sides.
  • Crews need clear access to this equipment 24 hours a day in order to safely perform necessary maintenance or restore power more quickly during outages.
  • Warning and caution stickers are placed on the equipment detailing clearance distances and safety measures.
  • Proper air circulation is necessary to prevent oil leakage and overheating, which can result in equipment failure and possible fire!
  • Never allow children to play near any electrical equipment.

For ideas of trees/plants that may work in the right-of-way near underground padmount transformer equipment, please click on the following link:

 

Electric Pedestal
Padmounted Transformer
Switchgear

 

Required clearance distances around underground electric equipment are 10 feet in front of the side with the locked door and 4 feet on all other sides.

 

Keep Them Safe! Keep Your Power On!

In photo below, linemen have room to safely access and repair transformer.

Transformers below are hidden and not easily accessible. This prevents crews from quickly restoring power during an outage and puts our linemen at risk of safety hazards.