Hey, guys. I've only worked a maximum of 480 volts and don't know much about voltages above this. Here's my dilemma:
I live in a townhouse community with underground distribution. In my row of townhouses, as with all others, there is a transformer at the end of my row with joint-use trenches for service laterals to each meter (200A each using 1/0 AL triplex). My guess is that the 7.2 KV feed to the transformer is buried first, then the individual service drops are buried a foot or so above it.
When it gets cool at night and dew forms on the grass, or when we have especially humid weather, the tips of the grass along this trench line glow like smoldering embers for a few seconds at a time. No, I'm not crazy. I've already questioned things like reflective light, etc, but I can walk up and pinch these grass tips and the glowing goes out.
My next door neighbor doesn't have a single blade of grass growing along this trench line, despite the fact that the landscaping crew does a great job of aerating the soil, planting seed, etc.
I suspect that there is a fault in the high voltage distribution cable feeding the transformer. I guess that a fault in a service lateral could also be causing this, but I would think that it would fail a lot faster resulting in an outage for one customer.
Now that I've written a book on the subject, is it possible for a cable fault to allow enough leakage to kill the grass above it and to cause the 'glowing grass tips' situation to occur within say, 25 feet of it?
I want to report this to the POCO, but I'm afraid that the minimum-wage clerk at the call center will write this up as a drunken customer. Furthermore, I don't want to have them digging up my neighbor's yard for nothing.
I guess what I'm getting at is to ask this question: Would a fault in a high-voltage cable cause something like this? Should I be concerned? Should I just zip my lips and just wait for the fault that I suspect to just completely fail and then not have to question myself again? Your thoughts?
I think I would start with a long piece of THHN firmly attached to the best ground I can find as a meter lead and stick a screwdriver into the dirt along this line hooked to the other meter lead. I am not sure how good this test would be but at least it is a place to start. Do a good one and a suspect one.
Greg, being that there's potential for high voltage, would he need a HV rated meter? Most meters go to only 600 volts. I know of an electrician who died by grabbing the wrong meter and surcharge it in a switch gear and it blew up on him
Actually, my best friend is a supervisor for our POCO and I ran this by him. He agrees that there is a fault in the immediate vicinity and that they should be called. Since I'm renting, I'm going to have the property management take care of handling this. Thanks for the suggestions, guys.
Start off using an EMF tester (hot stick) if it glows when you're still 10' away from the area in question, I'd let the utility handle it. There could be a breakdown of the Faraday cage/shield in one of the conductors from a tree root or possibly a pinhole in the insulation from when it was first installed just now rearing it's ugly appearance.