A Visit from ComEd at 3:00 AM

I got a call around midnight, from my neighbor Greg. He told me that ComEd had been over at his place for about two hours, trying to troubleshoot the issue with the transformer that sits at the edge of our respective yards.

Ultimately, they decided they needed to replace the whole thing – and were going to need access via my yard. I told Greg to let the workers know that was fine, and Greg told me to expect them to head over.

Around 3AM, I get woken up by a knock on the door. I walk outside, and I see this:

A lot of trucks.

More trucks.

And more! At the time, I thought there were about 4 trucks, but there are actually just three. It’s deceptive because each truck is pulling another smaller, portable crane on a trailer.

The main guy (he told me his name, but I’ve since forgotten) told me they needed to get down the driveway with their equipment, and gain access to the utility pole in back. He referred to the transformer as a “can,” and said something about how it wasn’t really necessary? That it used to power an elevator, and was no longer needed.

He also said that he would like to move things further away, to a utility pole that was North of here… so that it could be accessible from the street. But that that decision was above his pay grade, and for now his primary concern was to restore power.

He also mentioned that if they damaged the yard, they’d write us a ticket for landscaping repair work. That was a little troubling to hear, given all we’ve done with the yard, but he was very considerate about things.

I came back outside when they started to unload one of the mobile crane units. It was pretty fascinating stuff! And given how close it would be, it seemed like something I didn’t want to miss.

While I standing on my front porch, I looked over and saw my neighbor Betsy out on the sidewalk, also watching and taking photos!

After a bit, Liz joined us both outside. And the three of us just stood there, outside at 3 in the morning, watching heavy machinery slowly whir to life.

I wasn’t clear what was happening at the time, but looking at this now… it seems like they’re loading the newer transformer onto the mobile crane.

The crane, making its way down the driveway. Which really is not a very wide driveway AT ALL.

Through the driveway, onto the lawn.

After the first crane made its way in, the workers gathered around this guy. But they were all struggling with the controls for a bit. I’m not sure what was going on, but it seemed like the thing didn’t have power (which was kind of funny, given the situation).

After a while, it seemed like they were waiting for repairs or some replacement… and so we all parted ways, and headed back inside to try to get some sleep.

For the next few hours, there was a lot of commotion outside. I think that second thing got working, and guys were yelling back and forth to one another in the yard.

While Liz and I were able to sleep, off and on, during this time… it was not what you would call quiet.

Around 5:55 AM, the lights and AC kicked on in the house. I went to go check on things out back, and saw that the workers were still at it.

Around 7AM, I got another knock on the front door (a very quiet, polite knock). It was the same guy from last night, letting me know that they got things working again.

Over the course of the work though, they ran into a problem. The mobile crane from the video? Well, that thing operates on a series of wires tha the ComEd guy referred to as an “umbilical cord.” While they were navigating the crane, they happened to run over it.

Which is common, and not usually a problem. But while they were over the wire, they did a 90 degree turn… and ground the wire into the ground a bit. And so the thing won’t move anymore.

Supposedly, someone’s going to come by today to pick it up. And if not, the same crew will be back this evening (around 10PM) to try to remove it. So for now, we have the power back… and a new bit of machinery in the back yard.

Man, it sure is a lucky thing that Liz cleared off this whole area and revealed that concrete slab.

Fast forward an hour or so later. As I’m going out to get some coffee, I decided to take a closer look at things.

The workers had removed a bunch of small trees and limbs, which really helps clear this back area. I was really glad for this, as it saved us a lot of work! But as I was standing there, I realized… I needed to pick all this stuff up, and clear it off the lawn.

The elusive mobile crane, captured in its native habitat, napping in the early morning.

Crane closeup.

The new transformer! Here’s hoping for no more surprises this summer.

Huge thanks to the ComEd crew, who worked through the night to get things up and running for us again. I imagine this to be difficult work in the best of conditions, and to have to do it in the pitch black of night was no small feat.

Blackout, Revisited
Power Out, Games Out

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