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Thread: Losing a year of electrical service

  1. #1
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    Default Losing a year of electrical service

    This summer my wife and I spent almost 4 weeks working on the cabin, living in a tent with no power. I promised her I would not make her do that again. To that end, we visited the GVEA offices in Fairbanks and got the required documents complete with sketches and materials lists. We went over them and came up with a plan which we had approved by the office in Fairbanks. Then we purchased the materials and placed the panel and wires per the drawings and plan.
    I took lots of pics because they told me that would help. Also, they only come out to hook you up in winter due to some swampy conditions in the area. Last week we sent in our application for service with all of our photos of the work. I just got a call saying my system will not work. The fellow was nice and explained why. I went back through all my documents and I have to agree that my work does not meet their drawings but it is exactly what I told them I was going to do.
    bottom line is I attached to a batter board instead of a pole. I have all the correct connectors heights, cables and such, I just don't have the pole- my bad.
    Now I have lost a year. I will have to put in a pole this year and hope they hook me up next winter, kinda depressing.
    i just wanted to whine.

  2. #2
    Member dieNqvrs's Avatar
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    Get some bids to have a backhoe or excavator Co. put in a pole in this winter. Then have it hooked up correctly. I had a pole put in this winter with the ground frozen, no biggie.

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    Is this overhead or underground service? What is your batter board attached to? It sounds like you are having an overhead service feed to a pole next to your batterboard/meter box setup? and that you have not yet set the pole?
    Any pics of your set up?
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Attachment 88057Attachment 88058

    It is above ground. My 4 x 4 posts are 16' long and buried 3' down-man that was tough digging!!
    I bought a 4 x 8 x 5/8 sheet of treated plywood, cut it in half and doubled it up. I don't recall how high the weatherhead is, but, I recall it is near the bottom of the range given by GVEA. I suppose that an electrical guy might look at it and think me a baffoon but I really thought I had it right. I looked at a lot of panels in Fairbanks and set mine up really similar. Now looking back on it I wonder if all the batter boards I saw were sub. Anyway, looks like I have to go back to the drawing board.
    How much of my present set-up do you think I can use? Just plant a pole behind the mast? I found poles for $500 but I guess I could get one for less than that. I just want temporary construction power, not the Taj!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dieNqvrs View Post
    Get some bids to have a backhoe or excavator Co. put in a pole in this winter. Then have it hooked up correctly. I had a pole put in this winter with the ground frozen, no biggie.
    I will definately look into it. I made some decent contacts with some locals that were REALLY nice! I just thought, in my simple mind, that I had done it correctly.

  6. #6
    Member cod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the nikster View Post
    Attachment 88057Attachment 88058
    It is above ground. My 4 x 4 posts are 16' long and buried 3' down-man that was tough digging!!
    I bought a 4 x 8 x 5/8 sheet of treated plywood, cut it in half and doubled it up. I don't recall how high the weatherhead is, but, I recall it is near the bottom of the range given by GVEA. I suppose that an electrical guy might look at it and think me a baffoon but I really thought I had it right. I looked at a lot of panels in Fairbanks and set mine up really similar. Now looking back on it I wonder if all the batter boards I saw were sub. Anyway, looks like I have to go back to the drawing board.
    How much of my present set-up do you think I can use? Just plant a pole behind the mast? I found poles for $500 but I guess I could get one for less than that. I just want temporary construction power, not the Taj!
    Nik.... Not really any diff between the "Taj" and temp power. Same same.
    If your masthead is of reasonable safe height, the setup you describe should be fine for your panel. Under normal circumstances the power co should be installing your service pole, not you.
    I have to make some assumptions here but am guessing you have overhead primary (2 silver and separate wires) on an existing pole that is within 300 ft or so of your panel? The power co would usually hang a transformer tank on the existing pole, then run overhead triplex (2 black, one silver twisted wire) to the 'service' pole that THEY set. The service pole would require a 'guy wire' hung off the back side of it to support the backstrain on it. The co would dig and set the anchor for it also. So if u do set a pole it should be min 30 ft'er set 5.5-6 ft deep and NOT where your panel or something else would be in the way for the anchor placement.
    Im confident that you'll have power before long if you talk to the right people.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    Nik.... Not really any diff between the "Taj" and temp power. Same same.
    If your masthead is of reasonable safe height, the setup you describe should be fine for your panel. Under normal circumstances the power co should be installing your service pole, not you.
    I have to make some assumptions here but am guessing you have overhead primary (2 silver and separate wires) on an existing pole that is within 300 ft or so of your panel? The power co would usually hang a transformer tank on the existing pole, then run overhead triplex (2 black, one silver twisted wire) to the 'service' pole that THEY set. The service pole would require a 'guy wire' hung off the back side of it to support the backstrain on it. The co would dig and set the anchor for it also. So if u do set a pole it should be min 30 ft'er set 5.5-6 ft deep and NOT where your panel or something else would be in the way for the anchor placement.
    Im confident that you'll have power before long if you talk to the right people.
    Your description of the overhead primary is exactly right. It is within 115' of my panel. I know you don't speak for the GVEA but, are you saying that 'typically' they set the pole? I know they said it may cost $2000 to get hooked up, seems like a lot. I would feel a lot better about it if they were putting in the pole.
    It sounds also like you may be saying that if they put in a pole near my panel, I may not need to put 1 in, or am I hearing what I want to hear?
    i should probably give GVEA a call and see if they put poles in, if a second would be required and whom they would recommend in the area.
    Thanks for the comments folks!

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Nikster, GVEA does not set your service entrance pole for you. The pole your meter/service entrance/masthead is mounted on belongs to you. You're responsible to install that equipment per the spec drawing they gave you. Once installed to spec, they will hang the wire drop between the transformer (located on their pole) and your pole, and install the meter in your service entrance. If you don't wish to install the pole yourself, you can hire a local electrical contractor do do it for you, but GVEA won't do it.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Also, GVEA frowns on the use of aluminum conductor downstream of the service entrance. If you intend to use aluminum between the service entrance and your structure's breaker panel, wait until after they have hooked you up and are gone before you wire your feed into the service entrance. If they see aluminum conductors in your service entrance, they may give you grief or refuse to hook you up, citing safety/liability reasons. (This goes with them being sticklers for the specs they call for in that diagram they gave you. They won't cut you a whole lot of slack there). After they've hooked you up and left, you can pretty much do whatever you wish and they won't have anything to say about it.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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  10. #10
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    I feel your pain. I fought with Chugach Electric for 3 YEARS to get a line built to my cabin. Most of the fight involved me wanting to do the work. I have been building powerlines for 35 years. I finally gave up and let them do the construction. Tens of thousands in cost.

    CVEA might be willing to set a service lift pole within 15' of your setup. Use that term when asking. I also had an issue with my backer board. I ended up bolting it to a power pole and setting it 100' from the end of the power line. Most utilities have a lot of old retired poles. Some free, some a dollar a foot. One problem was the guy in the office that approved my design was never the guy that went out and looked at the finished meter pole. Looking at other meter bases doesn't always work as they change their standards every year or so.

    They have the power. In more ways than one. IMO, be compliant, but ask for help. Some of them might be willing to show you a way to make what you have work. Good luck and don't give up.
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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    My neighbor lived there full time. He needed power more than I did. His generator ate a lot of diesel. Mine rarely ran, as I used solar lights and radio for years. He was down in Idaho the week they finally connected us.
    He flew back up, excited to see the new power. We spoke on the phone on his way thru Anchorage. Massive heart attack took him minutes after we spoke. Terrible tragedy.
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    Member cod's Avatar
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    Nik.... Pm sent.
    What bullbustrr said in post 10 is what I was alluding to. 'Service pole' is a term that can have a couple diff meanings. Certainly the utilities will put in 'service' poles. They may not put in your service 'panel' pole. Sounds like the utility wanted your service panel to be on a 'pole' so they could run the overhead service wire to it. But with a 115 ft span, doing that without a backup guy on your service panel pole would not be standard operating procedures. So the fix would be for the utility to set a service lift pole w anchor/ guy setup next to your service panel assembly.
    Often times it's difficult dealing w office help cuz they really don't understand what goes on in the field. That goes for their engineers too.
    And there are often some important considerations for changing over from 'temp' power to 'perm' power that u should investigate. It may save u and the utility some ease of transfer later.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    It looks like I better give them a call. I will ask them what my options are. If they will place any kind of a pole I will probably have it done to save the time. Or I will have to find a local with time to kill. I understand it is power and deserves great respect. It is no wonder they are so picky about things if my mistake could cause others to lose power. I just love the DIY mentality and hoped I was smart/hardworking enough to do most of it myself. I do appreciate the words of encouragement and the advice you folks have given.

  14. #14
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the nikster View Post
    I just love the DIY mentality and hoped I was smart/hardworking enough to do most of it myself. I do appreciate the words of encouragement and the advice you folks have given.
    I've done it several times, with GVEA and CVEA. Last meter-base pole I planted was just a couple years ago. Always have done it myself. No need to be discouraged. There's no doubt you can do it yourself, if you want to. You just gotta meet GVEA's specs, pretty much to the letter, for your pole/guy and anchor/riser/meter-base/ground...as they have it in their handout drawing. It's not difficult. Digging a 5' deep hole without a truck mounted auger, and setting the guy anchor this time of year will be a PITA tho, for certain.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It
    #Resist

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