To-Do List: Electric Service Line

This turned out to be a mini-battle of its own. While installing the service line conduit, my contractor discovered that the entrance point on the transformer pad slated for my use was already occupied by wires. When I asked JCP&L what we should do, I was told to leave it for the line pulling crew to resolve.

Line pulling was scheduled for Monday, 15 October. Around 10 AM, a fleet of trucks had arrived—six of them—but nothing seemed to be happening. Then around noon I received a call from the JCP&L scheduling office informing me there was a major problem, and that I should walk out to the job site and discuss the matter with their foreman. Evidently the crew was told that the conduit was supposed to have been run all the way into the transformer pad; they were not informed that I was explicitly told to leave it for them to finish.

This then precipitated a rather heated three-way between myself, a JCP&L job manager who had just arrived on site, and the scheduling office on the phone. The manager informed me that the scheduler had "misspoken," and that I would need to pay to have my contractor return and get the conduit all the way into the pad; I informed him in no uncertain terms that I was not going to be held liable for anyone who might have "misspoken." But the manager was adamant, explaining that it was against Union rules for the crew to do any conduit work. I stood firm, and so the crew drove away having done nothing.

Later in the day, I received a call from the manager explaining that the crew had expressed willingness to help me out, and that they'd be out again on Tuesday to finish the conduit and pull the wire. Evidently my argument carried sufficient weight to sway the powers that be. I also had a suspicion that the crew was impressed I took on their boss and did refused to back down.

The following morning, the same fleet of trucks returned, and I walked down to greet the crew. In stark contrast to the JCP&L personnel with whom I'd interacted the day before, they were some of the most pleasant, helpful people I'd met, and we all got along famously. Indeed, by the end of the day, their foreman had suggested—several times, in fact—that I ought to apply for a job with JCP&L. "I'd work under you as my supervisor any day," he exclaimed at one point.

By 1 PM they'd pulled all of the wire—when it was originally estimated as a two-day job—and, as it happened, the crew was thankful that the conduit was not completed, as their manager had insisted I had to do, because it made wire pulling much easier. They also had to modify the transformer pedestal with a power saw to get the conduit inside, which is definitely not something I or my trenching crew would have known or even been allowed to do, much less been willing to do, since the box was live with ~5,000 volts!

The crew returned on Wednesday, 17 October, to drop the transformer and make the final connections. And then I was ready for the last step: energize the house.

One of the unfortunate side effects of this process was the condition of the driveway: it was utterly destroyed. It had to be completely re-graded and resurfaced from end to end. The excavation crew did a temporary touch-up on Friday, 19 October; a more thorough job will be done in the spring, after everything settles.

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