Hydro-Québec distributes electricity two ways: by overhead or underground lines. It is municipalities that decide whether or not to allow undergrounding projects proposed by developers and contractors. When a project is authorized, the electrical, telephone and cable companies work together to put their service conduits in joint-use trenches, thus limiting customer costs and inconvenience. The utilities also work with municipalities to create a safe, efficient and affordable underground system.
An underground system includes some equipment installed at ground level, like pad-mounted transformers and telecommunications pedestals. All the lines run through a conduit in an underground trench. Power lines and electrical equipment are within the street right-of-way and their location is determined on the basis of strict criteria. Hydro-Québec performs an environmental assessment to determine the best spot for pad-mounted transformers.
Hydro-Québec makes every effort to limit the number of pad-mounted transformers and their visual impact. We offer landscaping advice to customers who have equipment near their homes. The brochure The Right Tree in the Right Place: The Underground Distribution System [PDF] contains all sorts of ideas and tips on landscaping your property so that electrical equipment blends in.
A pad-mounted transformer has a locked and bolted door to prevent access. Its housing includes a grounding device that protects both the general public and Hydro-Québec employees. The transformers are sited in places where they are accessible at all times, so that Hydro-Québec crews can do maintenance work and emergency repairs as quickly as possible.
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