9 Jan 2001
Power lines aren't supposed to emit sparks and bangs, but last night the ones behind our house did. So we called PG&E (our power distribution company) and they had someone over surprisingly fast. It's nice to know they have good response time in real emergencies.
Apparently, two secondary (medium voltage) lines were getting pushed together by wind-flailing tree branches and were arcing. The guy climbed the pole and moved some branches around. That staved off the fireworks for a few hours, at which point someone else came by and trimmed the tree.
They probably saved the neighborhood from burning down, but they were too late to save the transformer. It was damaged by the fracas and needed to be replaced. So the next day, four large men and three large trucks spent five hours swapping the old transformer for a new one. It probably would have been easier if they could have pulled the trucks right up to the pole, but that would have been difficult since the easiest access to the pole is through a narrow walkway into our back yard. You could fit a motorcycle through there, but not a large utility vehicle. Or at least, not without tearing out the kitchen, which these trucks were almost certainly capable of.
I came home halfway through the process and took some pictures of them hauling up the new transformer.