Safety around power lines, substations and transformers

Downed lines
If overhead power lines are downed for any reason, stay clear. Call 911 or 1-888-456-7683 for assistance. Do not touch the wires.

If the downed power lines have fallen on a motor vehicle, avoid contact with the vehicle -- it has probably been electrified and deadly shock could result if you touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Stay clear until you are sure the power is shut off.

Overhead lines
Avoid contacting power lines, whether directly or with another object. Don't climb on wooden utility poles, metal transmission towers or any trees that may bring you into contact with power lines.

Objects can get hung up in power lines or in a tree near an overhead line. Don't try to pull it down or climb on anything to get it. Call SMUD at 1-888-742-7683 and we'll get it down for you.

Electric and magnetic fields
We get questions about the possible health effects of being exposed to certain electric and magnetic fields, which are found whenever you have electric power.

SMUD offers a brochure that contains helpful information about this subject. There are also practical tips you can use if you want to reduce your exposure at home and at work.

Substations 

Substations contain large, high-voltage equipment to serve many homes and businesses. We fence off this high-voltage equipment and post warnings for your safety. Please don’t allow children to play near a substation and never attempt to enter one. If you notice a damaged fence, please contact SMUD security at 1-916-732-5900.

Underground utility lines
Digging a hole to plant a tree or put in a new fence? Be safe and call before you dig.

Learn the location of any underground utilities near your home by contacting Underground Service Alert. Call 811 at least two working days before digging. They are open 6 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday, except holidays.

Proper clearance 
In some areas with underground power lines, we put transformer boxes on the property. If you have one in your yard or at your business, you can help yourself, your neighbors and our workers by making sure there is at least eight feet of clearance around them.

Keeping plants and structures away from the green metal boxes will help our crews restore power more quickly during an outage. The eight-foot clearance helps SMUD crews perform scheduled maintenance more safely and efficiently. It’s also required by law.

For more information about clear space requirements around neighborhood electrical transformers, call us at 1-888-742-7683.

Two employees work on gas pipeline

Natural gas pipeline safety

While we don’t sell natural gas to homes, we do use natural gas. Our high-pressure underground pipelines are the safest proven method of transporting natural gas.

Where is the pipeline located?

This map shows the location of SMUD's pipeline, which runs from near Winters in Yolo County to Rancho Seco in southern Sacramento County. For the most part, SMUD's pipelines are not visible because they are under the street or buried underground in a right of way.

A typical right of way is cleared of vegetation and is well-marked. A right of way sign in English and Spanish marks the path and provides SMUD's 24-hour Gas Control Center telephone number, 1-800-877-7683.

Pipeline accidents are preventable

A gouge, scrape, dent, crease or other damage to the pipeline or its coating could eventually cause a failure of the pipeline. Should you discover or cause damage to SMUD's pipeline -- no matter how minor it may appear -- notify SMUD immediately at 1-800-877-7683. If you're unsure who the pipeline belongs to, SMUD can tell you.

Call before you dig

Before you dig near a pipeline marker, California law requires you to call 811, the One-Call Notification System for Northern California. If necessary, a crew can mark the exact location of the pipeline.

If you plan to dig anywhere near the pipeline -- even if it's just digging by hand -- your call to the One-Call System must be made at least 48 hours before you do any excavation. If there is any conflict with the pipeline, SMUD will mark its location and work with you to ensure the safety of your project and the pipeline.

What to do in case of a pipeline leak

Gas leaks are signaled by dead vegetation, blowing earth, hissing or roaring sounds, and by smell where odorized.

If you know or suspect that a gas pipeline is leaking or damaged

  • Stay away from the site
  • Advise others to stay away
  • Do not start automotive equipment or other sources of ignition in the vicinity
  • Abandon equipment and leave the area quickly
  • Call 911. Report it immediately to emergency response agencies
  • Call SMUD's Gas Control Center. 1-800-877-7683.

If a nearby pipeline is damaged and gas escapes, you should know that natural gas is:

  • Colorless and odorless unless odorized to smell like rotten eggs. SMUD's gas is odorized.
  • Not poisonous, but in a confined space it can cause suffocation due to lack of oxygen.
  • Lighter than air and will rise and spread rapidly.
  • Flammable and will burn when mixed with air and ignited. Escaping gas can be ignited by open flames or sparks from electrical switches and motors, telephones, ignition systems, mechanical equipment and flying rocks.

SMUD owns and operates 76 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines, delivering fuel to four SMUD power plants in southern Sacramento County. This map shows the location of SMUD's pipeline which runs from near Winters in Yolo County to Rancho Seco in southern Sacramento County.

Living with our pipeline, as with any other neighbor, requires a spirit of cooperation. SMUD is always ready to provide, publications and public speakers to keep our neighbors informed about our activities, emergency response procedures and safety guidelines. You can contact SMUD at 1-855-525-7142.

Important Telephone Numbers

If you notice a pipeline leak:
First call fire and police at: 911

Then call:
SMUD's Gas Control Center
1-800-877-7683

For pipeline info and location:
1-855-525-7142 or visit the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) public map viewer.

Who to call before digging:

One-Call Notification System for northern California:  call 811

Get tips to drive safely and find out what to do if you hit a power pole.
Sometimes we need to access equipment on your property to perform inspections or make repairs.
We clear vegetation away from equipment to reduce the chances of power outages.
Nails, staples and pins used to post signs on power poles can be unsafe for our workers.
Theft and vandalism of our equipment costs you money and may create power outages.
With underground pipelines, it's important to know where to dig to avoid dangerous situations.