Alliant Energy clarifies information on utility boxes to be placed on residential property

At the February 6, 2017 Waukon City Council meeting, representatives from Alliant Energy were present to answer questions and address concerns relating to the installation of green utility/transformer boxes  in the boulevard in front of customers' homes or in yards, as necessary. Alliant Energy's representatives indicated that this would be done at no charge to customers and would improve service reliability.

Justin Foss, Senior Marketing and Communications Partner with Alliant Energy, recently provided additional information and clarification on this project. Foss indicated that Alliant Energy repairs and replaces a portion of its power grid on a yearly basis and advised that sections of Waukon have been targeted for that transition this year due to the amount of trees within the city.

This transition will involve main line replacement from overhead to underground cable and the installation of green utility boxes housing transformers in resident boulevards or yards. Not every Alliant customer in Waukon will be affected, only those in areas where main line above ground cable is replaced with underground cable. Similar ground-level boxes can be found in communities like Decorah and Elkader.

Foss explained that Alliant Energy is gradually eliminating some of its transformers on poles to improve reliability for customers by helping prevent outages due to tree limbs and animals. Alliant will be working with engineers to place ground-level transformers in places that do not obstruct motorists' vision or present a hazard to vehicles that are backing out of driveways. Ground-level transformer boxes will need to be placed in the boulevard or yard as replacements for pole-mounted transformers as they are removed.

Customers are not required to change their above ground service line to underground, but that option is available for a cost that will be explained to customers in a letter that will be arriving in the near future. Regardless of whether they maintain the current overhead connection to their home or choose to move that service underground, residents will still have a utility box installed in their home boulevard or yard where Alliant will be replacing pole-mounted transformers.

Foss explained that with this upgrade, there will be no cost to customers and that projects like this are what customers pay for in their electric rates. According to Foss, “This project is one way we’re working to bring more reliable power to our customers. By burying the main lines in this neighborhood, we’ll eliminate or reduce the outages we’ve seen in the past that were caused by trees and animals.”

Foss further explained that the ground-level boxes are designed to handle all weather conditions and, where possible, the boxes will be placed far enough back from the road to avoid interfering with vehicles or snow plows. Even though the boxes are made with durable construction, Alliant requests that people do not play or stand on them or put fences around them.