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Old 05-22-2008
oldjags oldjags is offline
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Getting data on power line clearance

I do all my sailing on a local hydroelectric reservoir in Alabama. There are several areas where power transmission lines cross the lake. I have contacted the power company and asked what the safe vertical clearance under these power lines is, and all I can get back from them is, basically, 'Stay away from the power lines'. Duh!

I feel like, from a legal liability standpoint, they are not willing go on record and tell me what height mast would safely pass under the lines, just in case they happen to be wrong. Either that, or they have no idea how high the lines are, and don't want to be bothered with having to go out and measure them. All they did was quote me the state law that says it's illegal to get within 6' of any high voltage transmission line.

That's fine, but if they won't tell me how high the lines are, how can I make sure I don't encroach? It's very difficult to judge height from the deck of the boat, and I'm not willing to go anywhere near the lines until I know for sure that it's safe. From a distance, it looks like there's plenty of room, but you never know.

Anybody got any advise on the best way to approach this issue with the power company? I don't want to piss them off to the point that they just decide to ban all sailboats on the lake.

Alabama just passed a law restricting the length and horsepower of power boats on all hydroelectic lakes in the state - a law that was pushed through the state legislature with the support of the power company despite the objections of most of the powerboat community. The sailing community has even less clout than the powerboaters, so I'm sure that if they deem it too inconvenient to go out and put clearance notices under all their transmission lines, they'll just go back to the state and get tall sailboats banned as well.

What's my next step? Contact the state Public Service Commission?

Lee Scott
1987 Catalina 27
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