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Staying Safe Around Those Green Boxes

Photo of a pad-mount transformer in a residential yard.
Pad-mount transformers are essential to reducing electric voltage from higher-voltage power lines to your home or building.

Electric utilities use a variety of equipment to deliver power to our members. Most familiar are the power poles and electric conductor lines strung 40 or more feet above the ground. However, one unassuming but often overlooked component is green metal boxes in yards, usually placed near homes and buildings. Pad-mount transformer boxes, commonly recognized as those little green boxes, are an integral part of an underground electric service connection. While you would never consider climbing a pole, pad-mount transformers are often not respected for performing a similar function in electrical infrastructure, given their accessibility at ground level to reduce electric voltage from higher-voltage power lines to systems that require lower-voltage levels such as a home or outbuilding.

Pad-mount transformers provide utility workers like our co-op access to repair and maintain the power supply, thus ensuring a reliable power delivery system. While these transformers are instrumental in this process, they can pose potential and severe safety risks when not handled with care. To ensure the safety of all, below are a few guidelines that everyone, especially children, should be aware of and follow.

Never touch, climb, or play on pad-mount transformers. Remind children not to sit on or play around those little green boxes. Pad-mount transformers should only be accessed by trained and authorized personnel. Never open or tamper with doors or other elements on a transformer unit.

Keep areas surrounding the pad-mount transformers clear so workers can safely maintain transformers as needed. Maintaining a 10-foot clearance around pad-mount transformer boxes is a good guideline. Pad-mount transformer boxes are grounded, so it is safe to occasionally mow or trim any vegetation that may accumulate around the base of the box.

Never paint or cover the pad-mount transformer box. The design of a transformer box is an essential way for electric crews to identify the equipment and its safety markings. While it may be tempting to camouflage it with paint or decorative items, a clean and well-maintained pad-mount transformer reflects your respect for the safety of your family and utility workers, and, really…what provides more curb appeal than that?

Never dig near a pad-mounted transformer. Underground electric wires from a pad-mount transformer can stretch in any direction, and any contact with one of these wires can result in electrocution.

Report any problems to the local utility provider. If the unit is unlocked or open, or you hear or smell anything unusual, remain a safe distance away. If the transformer is one of ours, call our office immediately.

Infograph illustration of safety guidelines to follow as described in the article.
Avoid the Big Green Box!

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