[ This post has 9 photos. ]
MONDAY 30 January
Expect the unexpected, right? For me, that’s inline with the idea that “things happen beyond our control, but how we deal with them is up to us.” After a week of somewhat strange communications, but no additional work, a crew from Rauhorn showed up today. Rauhorn is another DTE contractor. I think they do both overhead and underground work, and were prepared for both, but the remaining work was mostly underground.
I was already familiar with Rauhorn as they did some of the work on the power upgrade for our neighbor’s house across the street back in mid-November. When they were finished doing that work, I asked the crew chief if he had a few minutes to came over and look at what I was planning to do, conduit-wise. He did, and gave me some very useful suggestions as to how to do it to make it easier on whatever underground crew eventually showed up to install the electrical cable to the barn.
This crew was here “to complete the installation of power to the barn,” but were surprised to find that major pieces of the work they planned to do had already been completed, specifically the pedestal and the 350 kcmil service drop conductors. (I was not surprised that they were surprised.) But they were fine with the situation.
I explained about the advice I got from one of their guys before trenching in the 2” Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit, and pointed out the stake that marked the location of the free end near the new pole. With the small excavator (12” bucket), they came prepared to dig a trench, but only had to use it to unearth that end of the conduit (and hang the large cable spool). They dug up to the base of the pedestal by hand as there were live conductors buried there.
They were glad to have the 7/16” rope already through the conduit and used it to pull the 3/0 AWG, 3-conductor underground service conductor (USG) cable from the meter enclosure up to the pedestal. To does this, they suspended a large spool of the USC cable off of the excavator bucket so that it could unwind horizontally. The free end of the cable was attached to the rope in the meter enclosure in such a way that it would not pull loose. One guy helped guide/feed the cable into the conduit attached to the bottom of the meter can, while two guys pulled it through the conduit from the other end by hand with the rope. They stopped with enough cable still at the meter enclosure to make the connections to the meter lugs.
On the other end, they opened the top pedestal cover and routed the cable from the barn up through the bottom and out the top. They cut each wire to length to fit into the large junction blocks that were already there. As they were working, I noticed that one of the hot conductors that had been terminated by the previous crew had about an inch of exposed conductor below the insulated junction block. That was a major oversight that could have led to a short or an energized pedestal cover (the covers are made of metal). Rather than try to cut the live exposed metal strands shorter, one of the guys removed the conductor from the junction block, wrapped electrical tape around it up past where the wire insulation ended, reinserted it, and tightened it. He was wearing proper personal protection equipment, (PPE), and clearly knew what he was doing, but all of this was on a live, unfused wire.
ep was to install a meter, at which point we finally had power to the barn! I closed the main circuit breaker (which serves as the main disconnect for the barn) and then closed the circuit breaker for the Siemens FirstSurge surge protection device. Two green lights indicated that I had power to both buses of the panel. (I later checked the GFCI receptacle the electrician had installed way back when, and confirmed that I had 120 VAC and the GFCI feature worked.)
The final step was to put the upper cover back on the pedestal and secure it, and use the excavator to push dirt back into the trench and up to the base of the pedestal. One of the crew members said they would transmit the meter number to DTE.
As the trench by the pedestal was being filled back in, I took this photo to show that the bottom cover of the pedestal does not extend very far below grade, and the wires going to barn bend almost immediately as they leave the pedestal towards the conduit. The same is true for the service conductors going to the house. Any digging within a 5’ radius of this pedestal would risk contact with these conductors. They are all insulated, of course, but still …
I e-mailed the DTE case manger and the planning consultant (with a couple of photos) to let them know the work had been completed and I had power to the barn. As far as I knew, I was now done dealing with DTE other than to get the account number for the new meter and pay the bill each month.
Although I was not going to pull an electrical permit until mid-March, and probably not start wiring the barn until early April, it was time to work on the electrical plan in earnest. As soon as we returned from our travels I would need to be ready to start buying electrical materials and devices and staging them in the barn. Of course, I needed the big roll-up doors in order to do that.