Ok, so you’ve probably noticed there are quite a few wires on a utility pole, and that not all of them provide electricity. But what are the rest of them for, and what’s that barrel that looks like an oil drum hanging near them?

Let’s start from the top. Utility poles consist of three distinct layers or spaces. The top layer is the supply space. It’s where you’ll find the distribution wires that carry electricity from substations.

The middle layer is the neutral space, where the secondary power lines are located. These wires carry electricity to homes and businesses. The bottom layer is the communications space. There, you’ll find cable, telephone, and internet wires. Each utility maintains responsibility for its own lines.

And that barrel – that’s a transformer. It lowers the voltage passed from primary lines to secondary lines. Without it, there would be a lot of fried fridges.

While in most areas, power poles and lines are located alongside the road – subdivisions and newly constructed suburban areas built after 1970 are usually free of the wires that stretch across the sky. Lines in those areas are buried underground.

Knowing what equipment is on a utility pole and what each piece does can help protect you and your loved ones.  This graphic will keep you in the know about electrical safety.

If you’re concerned about a leaning utility pole near your home or a downed wire, call DTE Energy at 1-800-477-4747. You can also report a downed wire at dteenergy.com, or using the DTE Energy Mobile App. The app is available free of charge from the Apple Store or Google Play.

8.5×11 Utility Pole Line Description 9.21.17

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