6:22 PM EST, February 14, 2013
BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va.
Transformers help power your homes.
Appalachian Power gets them by train from Waukaushau, Wisconsin.
Only a few substations can take train deliveries, so sometimes AEP has to move them between substations.
You may have been stuck in traffic Thursday on Route 11 while a transformer was moved.
Generally the move starts out in the neighborhood of six months to a year ahead of time.
“I'm responsible to make sure everything's done safely and there's no problems, that the transformers move without any damage to the transformer,” project coordinator Dave Bush said.
It's around 20 feet tall and over 400,000 pounds. Appalachian Power had to move the transformer a quarter mile from one substation to another; a short distance but the toughest part is the logistics of getting it where it's going.
“In a situation like this where the power company is moving the transformer, they will contact us with where they need to move it and what their plan is as far as what roads they need to use,” Jamie Smith of VDOT said.
The Virginia Department of Transportation needs to be on hand to make sure the tiny stretch of Route 11 is clear. Same thing with State Police, who work with the Botetourt County Sheriff's Office to make sure it happens safely.
“It's going to be mostly traffic control with this situation,” Virginia State Police spokesperson Bob Carpentieri said.
“It's going to cause traffic concerns and we want motorists to be aware of that.”
Aside from police and VDOT, there was also a crane company in case they need to lift power lines; there can be close calls.
There's also another company that provides the specialized, 80-tire truck that carries the main event of this laborious parade.
All of that work for a trip that took just 24 minutes.
“Most people don't realize what it takes to get the power to your house, where it starts from, and this is just part of it,” Bush said..
So the next time you do something as easy as flipping a switch, remember there's a whole lot more than meets the eye.
The transformer was moved just to be a backup in case another transformer fails.
Appalachian Power says they have some that are three times bigger than that one.
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