Please Let Us Know Before You Grow—or Plug in Hungry Equipment!

Distribution Technician Brandy checks out an overloaded transformer she will soon have replaced by a line crew. Power distribution transformers transform power from higher voltages used for distributing electricity over distances, to voltages suited to residential, commercial, or industrial uses.

Many folks take electricity for granted—plug something in, turn it on, and it works…right?

But if that something requires a hefty amount of electricity, a transformer could get overloaded. “It’s the bigger items—hot tubs, welding equipment, infinity pools, or large equipment that add up. Say, a compressor, and then six months later, an overhead crane, slowly and surely electricity requirements for items like these could overload the nearest transformer,” explains Robin, one of Central Lincoln’s GIS Lead Technicians. “And when a transformer is overloaded, power will go out, not only for the customer who has overloaded that transformer, but potentially for the customer’s neighbors. Replacement can take hours, and if the outage happens at night, everyone in the surrounding area could be without light—or heat—for some time.”

Fortunately, preventing such an event is simple: “Email us at info@clpud.org, or call us at 877-265-3211 during business hours and press “4,” adds Brandy, a Distribution Engineering Technician. “We will come out and do a load check at no charge. It may take us a week or so, depending on how busy we are, but we’re happy to do it.”

Notifying us before plugging in some hefty devices or equipment applies to both residential and commercial customers. Now that the recreational use of marijuana is legal, we’ve seen an uptick in “grow” operations, and indoor grow lights can use a great deal of electricity. It doesn’t matter to us what’s growing under those lights. What matters is that customers let us know they will be using significantly more electricity, so we can make sure the transformers and lines serving that location have the right capacity to meet every customer’s needs in the area.

And there’s another excellent reason to let us know before you grow, or plug in more equipment: “If customers don’t check with us first, they could be charged for the costs of replacing an overloaded transformer, including equipment fees and crew time, to change out that equipment,” Brandy says. “And if it happens at night, the cost will be even higher,” adds Robin. “Line crews called out after hours must be paid overtime.”

Help us protect our transformers, prevent outages, and ruined equipment, and avoid what could be a hefty bill for a replacement transformer. If you’re planning to use significantly more electricity, please email us or call us. Then you’ll know if your transformer is ready to serve your growing needs, and you’ll avoid glares from your neighbors by preventing an outage.