TVA’s extensive transmission system delivers reliable power that makes life comfortable and convenient. But caution is needed near power lines and substations. Here's how to stay safe near transmission equipment.
TVA owns and operates more than 16,400 miles of transmission lines and 500 substations, which deliver the reliable power that we depend on for our jobs, homes, schools and more. Although built with public safety in mind, transmission equipment can be dangerous.
The majority of TVA’s transmission systems are power lines with 161,000 volts of electricity on each wire, and a large number of lines operating at 500,000 volts — more than enough to deliver a deadly shock. (For comparison, an outlet in your home is 120 volts.)
High-voltage transmission lines operate at high temperatures and do not have an insulated covering. It is important to note that trees and other objects do not have to touch a high-voltage line to cause injury, fire, or damage property. Electricity can "arc," or jump, from power lines across a gap in the air.
Electricity follows the easiest and shortest path to the ground. If a person or conductive object — trees, metals or water — gets too close to a line, or touches it, electricity can flow through it to the ground, causing severe burns, injury or even death to living beings.
Please be aware and follow these safety precautions around power lines.
Typical high-voltage overhead transmission lines are bare conductors (wires) connected to supporting structures with insulators. The air surrounding the energized conductor is the “insulator.” Maintaining sufficient clearance, or air space, around the conductors is vital to protecting life.