Ask Bob — November 2021

Bob Pierce headshotBob Pierce answers questions about energy-efficiency, consumer products, and cooperative governance. He is Clearwater Power’s Chief Operating Officer and welcomes your questions on our Ask Bob page.

Q: I recently purchased property. When I spoke to your engineers about getting electricity, they said it won’t be finished until next year. Are you really that busy?

A: As with many other businesses, we are witnessing some serious disruptions in the supply chain. Pad-mounted transformers have become nearly impossible to keep in stock. These are the green boxes that sit near the home as opposed to the gray tanks you’ll see at the top of a pole. This shortage is affecting utilities large and small across the nation.

sign on tree asking if anyone has seen any pad-mounted transformersThis has been a huge year for building new lines to new homes. We attempted to get our orders in early to stay ahead of the crowd in anticipation of the busy construction season. In some cases, these efforts helped but unfortunately, some items have been delayed repeatedly.

Clearwater Power is a cooperative and we are also a member of several cooperatives. One of those is a wholesale company called General Pacific (GenPac). GenPac has enormous buying power as they pool the resources of many smaller utilities throughout the northwest. This relationship has always been a big help to us but even with our GenPac connection, there are simply not enough pad-mounted transformers to meet the national demand.

We still have pole-mounted transformers for overhead service, though we realize that most new homeowners would prefer to keep the power underground at the point of use.