SDG&E hoses down their lines

The dust and junk that build up can cause an arc

Blasting water on electrical lines is not a bad thing.
  • Blasting water on electrical lines is not a bad thing.
  • Image by Rick Geary

Matthew Alice: A while ago I saw a high-powered hose being sprayed on high-voltage electric line harnesses. Is this bad? I also saw heavy cables being laid into the concrete at Lindbergh Field in a big square grid. Is this to melt snow? And what does “Del Cerro” mean? — Mark Harbison, San Diego

A man burdened with great bewilderment. Confusion at every turn, apparently. Come out from under the bed, Mark. Here are your answers. First, blasting water on electrical lines is not a bad thing. It’s kind of the Ma Alice approach to house cleaning. When enough crud builds up, put out the cat, hose the place down, and start over. According to SDG&E, the dust and junk that build up on the lines and ceramic insulators can cause an arc across the insulator. The current will flash to the ground and cause a fault on the line, which will knock out power. And of course the power will go out in the middle of a big football game or a really gripping episode of The Nanny and everybody will start booing the utilities and yammering on about how much better things were in the good old days. To save us from all that reminiscing, SDG&E hoses down the lines. As for cables in the concrete, unless we’re planning to get many, many tons of snow in one huge flake whomping directly on Lindbergh, it’s no snow plan. It’s just reinforcement for all the heavyweight traffic. And Del Cerro? Cerro is Spanish for “hill.” Del means something like “Republicans and lawyers and various other rich people who live on the....”

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