Hi I am new to this board and am not a electrician of any sort. I linked here from Western Mass Electric Co.
But I do have some questions I hope could be answered. I am an avid off-roader belong to a New England Off-road Club. As a club we try to only off-road in legal and safe areas. Recently after a trail run a member of the club posted this message about an area we were in
Any trail which runs under the power lines which are owned and operated by Northeast Utilities and they sub companies (Western Mass Electric Co, Connecticut Light & Power Co. and PSNH are illegal and very dangerous. The people running Gutter were lucky not to have someone killed that day. By the pictures I can tell that was a 345Kv line, in those conditions they could have easily passed a current though a vehicle to the ground. The right of way granted for a power line is exclusive in right even to the point of excluding the property owner from use of thier own land. So even the property owner can not grant you permission to drive under them. A town representative can not give you permission and for that fact a state official can not either. I work for NU and I work for the department that manages these rights of way so I know the facts about this.
If this club continues to run power lines I will have to start acting on it at work. I was asking for the club to restrain from going there but if it continues, You'll force me to start working with the enforcement component of our company to keep you out from under the lines
As a club we were unaware of these dangers and these legalities. Nor could anyone confirm any of this.
I was wondering if anyone here could give me (our club) some more information or a place to look so we could keep the club safe and legal
Hi there Johnny, Welcome to the board!. Regarding your question, that sounds like a rather bad situation to be in. But, I would personally move to keep people away from lines with voltages this high, all is needed is to have one vehicle strike a pole/pylon and the results could be catastrophic.
thanks for your responses. For the trails that we do travel it does pass under the lines a few times But the closet to any pole i could remeber being is 40 yards or so. We do not go through these trails at high speeds either. Max speed is probably 7 mph. ANd that would be pretty fast.
I am not trying ot say we are right for doing this or we are wrong I am just looking for some good information.
There are lots of aspects to power line right of way access, including the dangers of the lines themselves, who owns the land below the lines (often _not_ the utility), access by 'favorable' users (eg. law abiding users who provide extra eyes, and thus prevent use be criminals...) etc.
I suspect that your club member who posted that it was both extremely dangerous and illegal to off road under power lines simply does not know the full story...if they actually work for the utility, then you probably want to try working _with_ them in order to better define what is safe, legal, and mutually beneficial. From the quote that you posted, this might be a bit of a hard sell education campaign, since they sound excessively scared of electricity (as opposed to rationally aware of the dangers).
Walking under a power line, even a 750kV line, is not dangerous (or at least should not be dangerous if the line is properly functioning and maintained). Climbing the tower _is_ dangerous, and getting too close to the conductors is dangerous; 750kV can arc a surprising long distance. But the design of the power lines (including the height of the towers, the tension on the conductors, the operating temperature, etc.) is supposed to account for this and provide a reasonable clearance for users on the ground. (Note that in the BPA documents above, the design rules for the lines allow vehicles up to 14 feet tall under the lines.)
In any case, there _are_ real dangers, but part of line design is to make sure that 'the public' cannot approach regions of danger without clearly passing some demarcation. In a properly designed power transmission system, you would have to climb a pole or cross a fence or open a locked room or similarly cross a barrier to approach the conductors too closely. Snow mobile users all over the North and ATV users everywhere use power transmission rights of way, safely.
winnie, Not sure what things are like in the US, but over here in NZ, there are significant barriers that you would have to cross to get to the lines, even on our 110kV pylons, the barriers used on 220kV and the 500kV DC link are something else too. But, a vertical distance of 14 ft isn't that much when you have a 4WD vehicle with a 108" CB whip on it. And with undulating terrain, it would be rather difficult to maintain an exact underpass distance of 14 ft, especially during the summer months. Johnny, What do you do for a living?. Stick around this Bulletin Board, you're bound to pick up some valuable knowledge.
Winne, The club member that posted this does work for NU although I am not sure what he actually does for them. He also stated something about not even letting there own trucks on the trails. That link was very interesting and possibly helpful
Trumpy, Some areas around here are gated others are not. As a club we kind of always followed the guidlines in the article that winnie posted. If it is not gated it is legal until we here otherwise. If someone tells us we are tresspassing, then fine it is off limits, if we went up there one day and there was a gate, then fine it is no longer legal.
As far as what i do. I am currently a Computer Programmer/ IT Assitant for a small company
Re: Safety Questions#149595 01/05/0409:39 AM01/05/0409:39 AM
Usually there are no barriers other than height and the towers themselves. When the towers are in urban areas, sometimes the tower base is fenced in.
Usually the conductors cross roads at a pretty high elevation, but I've been in parking lots positioned below center cable span where the conductors are pretty low. I've found it very disquieting to be under a multi-kV line in a light snow, hearing both a bit of 60 Hz hum and the crackle of snow flakes interacting with the line and the insulators.