High Voltage Electrical Lines

High Voltage Electrical Lines

April 19, 2014

What is a High Voltage Line?

High voltage transmission lines deliver electricity over long distances. The high voltage is required to reduce the amount of energy lost during the distance. Unlike other energy sources such as natural gas, electricity can’t be stored when it is not used. If demand exceeds supply, a blackout occurs. A comprehensive national grid with many redundancies has been built to mitigate these circumstances, and overhead high voltage electrical lines can frequently be encountered by farmer, construction workers, and local residents.

Because overhead transmission lines are not covered by insulation, there are many safety considerations when working and playing nearby.

Electrical Contact Safety

Electricity ’wants’ to reach the ground. An object on the ground can still become electrified without touching an overhead wire because electricity can arc through air. Because of that, one should keep good distance between themselves, construction and farming equipment, and overhead power lines.

The National Electrical Safety Code advises a safe clearance based on voltage and distance from ground. When working near or around overhead lines, the ground level should not be changed without checking with your utility company first. Equipment and machinery should always be kept a safe distance from high voltage lines, appropriate to circumstances.

Things such as kites are very dangerous around overhead high voltage lines. If the string from a kite crosses wires, it could complete a circuit transferring the electricity to the person holding the string.

Electrical Shock Risks

Equipment needs to maintain proper grounding to avoid a shock hazard. If a piece of equipment comes into contact with high voltage lines and is not properly grounded, anyone touching this equipment could get shocked. Maintaining proper grounding reduced the risk of shock. A number of factors play into the severity of shock such as the voltage, distance from the conductor, the size of the objects, and it’s distance from the ground.

High Voltage Lines and Health

Despite concerns that living near high voltage power lines might not be safe, scientists have conducted numerous studies since 1970, including a study funded by Congress in 1992, then again by American Physical Society which found no correlation between cancer and power line fields.

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council came to the conclusion “that the current body of evidence does not show that exposure to these fields presents a health hazard. . . .”

High Value of High Voltage Lines

High Voltage transmission lines are a critical part of the energy infrastructure we depend on. They are installed and maintained by skilled professionals, and they demand respect because of the energy they carry.

The energy grid we depend on is so reliable, we often take it for granted. Next time you flip a switch and turn on a light, think about the work that went into making that simple act possible. And how in years past, nearly all human activities stopped after sundown. Things we take for granted are a crucial part of our modern society. We appreciate the hard work and professionalism that goes into maintaining this crucial part of our lives.