The Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation is telling Fort Knox residents that the green utility boxes found throughout the housing areas are designed for safety, but are not for children to play on or around.
A spokesperson for the company that manages the installation’s electrical needs reminded residents to keep their distance from the boxes.
“The green pad mount transformers are exactly the same as the transformers you see on utility poles only they’re mounted on the ground because the service is underground wiring,” said Dustin Ward, NRECC’s manager of operations at Fort Knox. “They’re designed to be safer, with a case around the transformer and conduit around the wires, but it is still an electrical transformer.”
Recently, inspectors found that someone had been digging around one of the transformer pads.
“We periodically inspect our systems, and noticed what we suspected were kids digging near and under one of the pads,” Ward said. “They exposed the conduit [pipes] that protect the bare wires. They were inches from 7,200 volts of electricity.
“They exposed the conduit [pipes] that protect the bare wires. They were inches from 7,200 volts of electricity.
“You don’t want anyone close to that if they don’t have to be.”
Ward said he understands the kids’ interest in the boxes, and he feels that some education about them could keep them safer.
“In a lot of the housing areas, [the boxes are] a fixture between houses and they often become a makeshift base for playing tag or the place where kids meet, and they sit or lean on them,” said Ward. “Kids may not understand why they shouldn’t be on or near them, and we’d like parents to tell them about the dangers of electricity.”
He said the boxes are designed with safety in mind, but the boxes’ design could be compromised by people’s carelessness.
“As we’ve installed them, they are completely safe to the public because everything is done to National Electrical Safety Code and Occupational Safety and Health Administration Code standards,” said Ward. “When they’re hit by vehicles or dug under, then they’ve been altered, which could present a potentially unsafe situation.”
To receive children’s educational material concerning electricity and ground transformer utility boxes or to report a box that may have been compromised, Ward is encouraging residents to call Nolin RECC at 207-765-6153 or visit Nolin RECC’s Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/NolinRECC/, their Instagram page @nolinrecc or Twitter @nolinrural.
“The ground mounted electrical infrastructure is designed to be safe, and you don’t have to be scared of it,” Ward said. “Still, it’s better to avoid the boxes altogether.”