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Old 04-06-2007, 02:31 PM   #1
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Angry Area Inspectors vs. Public Utility Community Planners

***And The Electricians Stuck In The Middle!***
I have been the general manager for my husband's electrical contracting company for over 16 years.
We get all kind of hot under the collar when a project is approved via our local electrical supplier (Xcel Energy of Colorado) and then is DENIED (after being issued a permit) by the local electrical inspector! What gives between these two entities?? And what about all the city/state/local electrical inspection offices who send out different inspectors for each phase of the inspections??? What you end up with is a MELTDOWN. These people (elec. inspectors) never seem to agree with each other. No matter how tidy a worker my hubby is, if a different person comes to inspect, they always seem to gig on something that is totally to code and had passed the first time. Leaving ME to have to dig out the appropriate sections of the NEC book and quoting it to them over the phone so that they are up to date with the code law! W.T.H.?? I'm pretty certain that as an inspector, every last one of them should be up to par on the rules!
Let's have an example here so that you may see what has me up in arms and actually writing a thesis paper on the subject of "Coordination of Area Electrical Inspectors and Public Utility Companies"....
A customer wants to add a second service for the pool house and pool he has just had installed (all permitted, inspected and approved)...Okay, no problem, right?!? We call Xcel, they send out the WRONG guy--a lineman with no diagram of the transformers, who, by the way did not tell us he was a lineman--this guy tells my electricians to "go ahead and put the wire in the pipe and take it to that transformer over there". Okay, we then call the city, pull the permit for a second service, are granted the permit, and an inspector comes to take a look before we begin. This inspector then say, "sure, that looks like a good spot, and you have everything in order, so go ahead and get 'er done". Perfect, all duckies in a row....WRONG! We get the trench dug, pipe and wire in and going to where it "belongs". Call in for our next inspection and out comes a different inspector (no suprise there as it always happens that way). This new insp. tells the electricians 1) You can't have two services on one property, 2) Tells the customer that Xcel would have done the wire and pipe for FREE (oh really?!!) and that we must be ripping him off! GREAT GOBS OF GOOSE POOP. Nothing like a little coordination of people, eh? Of course the customer is mad as a hornet, but not at us as he was present during both of the previous visits by the "People in Authority". What now? We call Xcel and have them come back out--but it isn't the same guy that came out before...It's a real community developement planner who DOES have the layout for the transformers, and tells us "sorry, I was out of town and they sent out the wrong guy to give you information the 1st time". Great. She now wants us to pull up the wire, the pipe etc. and move it to a DIFFERENT transformer-uh, the one we suggested to begin with as it was soooo much closer to where we were starting. She also states that OF COURSE there can be two services on one property, think of all the Mother-in-law houses out there, guest houses on big properties, etc. Plus of course, Xcel would Never have put that pipe and wire in for FREE! But, does she offer to reimburse the customer, or us, for the time they have had us waste? The thousands of dollars we just ate? Hell no. So our customer is now stuck with a pool he can't use, and a pool house with no power. And we are stuck with NO PAY. Alright, customer is getting a lawyer to sue Xcel and the city...but are we paid, nope.
Why? Because there is NO Cooperation or Coordination between the area inspectors and the public utility companies! Wouldn't it be easier if they woked together? Wouldn't it make sense for the area inspectors to adopt the rules of the public utility companies and the NEC?
Or how about the rule in Denver, that the mast has to be 8' over the roof, but Xcel wont hook it up if it's over 4' above the roof....Now what? Customers just get jacked up if they want to add onto the house or put in a garage, etc. Many of them are now requesting we work without permits...sorry folks, not putting my business license on the line for you.
So any ideas?
Anyone out there have any experiences like this that I can use in my thesis (I just went back to school after 22 years and this topic is the one I chose).
I really need some feedback here.
Thanks for reading another long vent...
Frustrated in Colorado
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Old 04-06-2007, 02:47 PM   #2
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Frustrated in Colorado.

Whatever spot you are standing upon on this little mud ball in space, the rules of inverse uncoordination mismanagement apply where Utility Companies are involved.
There is no cure for this problem. Only the knowledge that you are not alone in this world will offer you comfort. When we all eventually meet at that great electrical workshop in the sky lets hope you get the chance for vengance,

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Old 04-06-2007, 05:17 PM   #3
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I hear some of these stories, and I am thankful for the POCO in this area. Sure, there is some head butting from time to time, but nothing like that!

I did a little work in D.C. area, and we had a problem with the POCO there. 4 building appartment complex being re-done with new 1600 amp services. All plans and equipment pre-approved by the POCO. 1st service set, inspected, OKed by POCO power side, the day they are tugging the laterals in, the POCO meter superviser comes in and says, "No way I am installing a house meter in that equipment" My boss hit the ceiling, pull out plans WITH APPROVAL STAMPS from the power company-the guy said he didn't care. No meter. "Oh, those guys at the office don't know what they are doing".
Had to rip out and change a couple peices of gear. Thank God we were only 1/2 way through the 2nd service, but there is a few grand of useless and unreturnable equipment sitti at the shop collecting
John from Baltimore
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Old 04-06-2007, 05:48 PM   #4
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I've had a few linemen cry the blues about some of the Square D meter stacks w/horn bypass. The way Square D does their horn bypasses, they're about 1/4" from touching the lid to each metering section. If you're not super careful putting the lid over the meter, you can go phase to phase.
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Old 04-06-2007, 11:15 PM   #5
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In a word...autocrats! And there is a basic law of electrical business, no two autocrats can occupy the same opinion at the same time.
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Old 04-07-2007, 08:40 AM   #6
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I hate to say this and I often do not follow these guide lines BUT when dealing with the utility GET IT IN WRITING.

As for inspectors they are no worse or no better that most electricians, plumbers, doctors or lawyers. Some are excellent, some are good, some are ok, some stink and some stink on ice. Just hope and pray when your are on the table in the ER that the doctor getting ready to open you up is not the stink on ice guy.
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Old 04-07-2007, 08:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by brian john View Post
I hate to say this and I often do not follow these guide lines BUT when dealing with the utility GET IT IN WRITING.

In todays world of people turning their backs on others and companies hiring poorly trained personnel (including POCOs), get it in writing is the only thing that can help...even though sometimes that does not even help. At least it will help to recoup some of the monies lost.

I am an inspector, and I am one of the principles of the company... I will tell you that even all of our guys are not on the same page. Getting them there is about the hardest part of the business for us.
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Old 04-07-2007, 09:45 PM   #8
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I will tell you that even all of our guys are not on the same page
Pierre: This is to be expected, the only thing I require of my guys is to realize they are not all EVERYTHING to electricity and to call or ask for help. Call me, call the manufacture call another electrician, BUT CALL. The guys that worry me are the ones that think they know everything and explain code or electrical issues with no regards to the truth.

IE. The number of guys the swear brown, yellow orange (and it has to be BOY not YBO) is code mandated, or driving a separate ground rod will resolve all electrical issues and on and on. I do not bother to argue with them I ask them to show me the data to substantiate their claim, most can't and I move on.
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