Broken Service Feed Wires


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Old 04-28-14, 11:47 AM
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Broken Service Feed Wires

Well I was putting a t-post in the ground and sliced through two of the three service drop cables. One phase and one neutral. The two cables were shorted by the t-post and burned two holes through the metal. Had my electricity company come out and disconnect the cables from the transformer(this transformer is just for my house). I dug a hole around where the t-post was and 26 inches down I got to the wires. They are direct burial with no PVC conduit. Everybody I've spoken with says that the entire line needs to be replaced from the transformer to the meter. They say it can't be spliced especially because it's aluminum. My main breaker shows 200, so that must be the incoming power amperage. I was quoted 7000 dollars for replacement of all three cables in PVC conduit. The meter is about 120 feet from the transformer.

Is 7000 dollars a reasonable quote?

I was told the wire would be replaced with aluminum URD service cable that is 45 dollars a foot.

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:09 PM
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$45 a foot for the cable is surpassing insanity. If they had quoted that as an 'installed' price - including PVC and labor, I might buy it (which they didn't, because $45/ft times 120 feet is $5400). But you're talking about cable (4/0-4/0-4/0 URD) that you can get at Home Depot for less than $5 a foot. And considering you can rent a trencher for a couple hundred bucks and have the trench done in less than an hour.. Yeah. You might consider doing it yourself.

Was the quote from the power company or an electrician? I am assuming since this wasn't found shallow that you didn't call DigSafe, and that's why they're holding you responsible for it? Because technically the drops/laterals are their property and their responsibility..
 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 04-28-14 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 04-28-14, 12:22 PM
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Hi!

Thanks for helping out. Yes, I meant for install price per foot. You are absolutely right. I can rent a trencher myself for just a few hundred bucks.

The quote was from an electrician company. I didn't call the DigSafe utility finder people because I though that might be a little deeper and that there was a very low chance of slicing through with just a t-post.

The power company said once the wire is in my yard, it's my property. I was thinking the drops would have been their property, like you said.

The only other thing I would have to do would be to fit PVC pipe, right? Then just connect the wire to the meter and have the power company connect the other end to the transformer.

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:31 PM
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If that's the installed price then what's the extra $1600 for?

With underground service, the power company owns the conductors up to the input terminals on the meter pan. That's called the demarcation line. On overhead service it's where the overhead triplex connects to the conductors coming out of the weatherhead. I think you need to talk to someone else at the power company.

BTW putting it in PVC wont really offer it much more protection. You can drive a stake or T-post through PVC or shatter it.. The original run wasn't in pipe because it was buried to code depth.
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:34 PM
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There are underground splices that should work. Polaris makes one for direct burial.
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:34 PM
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The extra 1600 dollars is probably because it's 155 feet, I guess. I haven't measured exactly what the distance is. I will have to call my power company, thanks for telling me what the name of that length of wire is-demarcation line.

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:38 PM
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How safe are those splices? I just don't want any failure with the splices. Do they come with heat shrink?

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:40 PM
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If your location is as indicated by your user name you don't even need a trencher. Just a trip to your nearest street corner labor pool. If your inside the city limits though your real problem is you can't pull a permit to do the work. Only a master electrician can pull the permit. In the county you are good. Have you asked Reliant if they will do a temporary drop for you if you put a 4x6 pole near the transformer (HOA permitting)?
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:46 PM
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Probably so, I could just get some labor.

Is Ray your first or last name? I know an electrician nearby me that is Ray, but that's only if you are in Houston, like me.

I believe the temporary drop is near 300 dollars. I have a generator. I'm in northwest Houston, outside of the city limits.

My power company is Centerpoint.
 
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Old 04-28-14, 12:56 PM
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Centerpoint owns Reliant and all lines are maintained by Reliant. No, not a electrician. Have you verified the cost of the drop by calling the emergency number? Customer service has a habit of giving wrong information.
 
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Old 04-28-14, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DIYHouston
The extra 1600 dollars is probably because it's 155 feet, I guess. I haven't measured exactly what the distance is. I will have to call my power company, thanks for telling me what the name of that length of wire is-demarcation line.

Thanks!
Lol no, the length of cable between the pole/transformer and meter is called a "drop" when it's overhead, and a "lateral" when it runs underground.

The 'demarcation line' is the point at which their wiring meets the premises wiring. In the case of an underground lateral or RV pedestal, that point is the input terminals of the meter. Everything upstream of the meter is their property, while everything downstream of the meter (including the meter housing) is yours.

If your power came in overhead, the demarcation line would be at the split-bolts that connect the overhead triplex with the conductors coming out of the mast.

So basically if the meter was in the back yard, and those wires were carrying power that had already been through the meter, then yes it would be your property and your problem. But since they are the wires feeding your meter, they are power company property.
 
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Old 04-29-14, 07:16 AM
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Service rules and ownership of the service lateral may be different with different power companies and in different states. In my state if the owner is in an area served with overhead services, the power company will furnish and install the service drop to the owner's building, but they typically will specify at what point the service must be installed. In an overhead service area, if the owner wants underground service, the owner must furnish and install the underground wiring from the service to the pole and leave enough wire to reach the top of the pole, the power company will take it up the pole and connect it. If this is the case with the OP, the OP (property owner) is responsible for the underground wire including future replacement if necessary.
 
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Old 04-29-14, 10:56 AM
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I'm not getting anything from the OP that this is an 'elective' underground service.. What I take away from his wording is that he has a pad transformer. If the development has underground utilities, then the lateral belongs to the power company.
 
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Old 04-29-14, 12:06 PM
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As far as I know in most cases his electric service provider does not provide laterals only drops. The neighborhood doesn't matter.

However there are several electric companies that resell from the same service provider. Some may pay the provider to install laterals but I have never herd of that.
 
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Old 04-30-14, 04:29 PM
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I agree with PCBoss. We, and the power company, make underground splices all the time. There are plenty of good splice kits out there that will work fine, even with aluminum. One has a mixture you pour in over the splice to make it water tight.

On a side note $7K sounds stupid expensive to me.
 
 

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