Ask Bob – November 2022

Bob Pierce headshot

Bob 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 am having power brought in to a new location and I was hoping to save money by doing the trenching myself. Will that lower my costs?

A: Yes, but there are some things you need to consider. First, always call 811 before you dig. Then, consider that the equipment and material used in underground power construction is large and heavy, so the trenching has to be done a certain way. For that reason, I personally think it is better to use an expert who does trenching for a living. For those who want to do it themselves, you definitely need to work with the foreman assigned to your project. They will be able to explain what will be acceptable. Having said that, here are some guidelines:

  • The trench must include a parallel driving lane for the entire length to accommodate a truck with a trailer
  • The trench should be as straight as reasonably possible
  • Trench must terminate at the stake (or 5 feet from the underground transformer)
  • Please keep the spoils on one side of the trench (about 2 feet back)
  • Maximum length of the trench cannot exceed 300 feet
  • Trench depth must be between 36 inches (minimum) and 48 inches (maximum)The power line needs to be deep but not so deep that it can’t be accessed in the future
  • Trench width must be between 12 inches 24 inches

Following those guidelines will help ensure that the trench is ready for conductor and the project moves forward on time. Again, please work closely with the foreman and his crew first. Learn more on our Construction page.