I remember a particular temporary electrical service I installed on a commercial job site. The builder hadn’t given me a site plan, and didn’t show up to tell me where he wanted the service, so I put it where it was convenient for the power company. Turns out it was in the parking lot. When the paving contractor came along, he moved the temporary service out of his way. Luckily, no one got hurt, but had there been any damage or injury, the lawsuits could have put us all out of business. Builders have been jerry-rigging job-site power for years, but insurers, inspectors, and code officials have begun to take notice — and they don’t like it. In fact, the industry as a whole is finally getting serious about electrical safety. Even builders who make it a policy of leaving electrical work to the electrician are liable for electrical mishaps on their jobs, so it behooves you to show some interest in how power is used on site. That means making an effort to communicate with your electrician, and making sure your employees and subs understand what they can and can’t do. Besides helping prevent injury, thinking through the process of how power is used on your jobs will also save you time and money.

The first question you should ask is whether the job even needs temporary power. In many places, you can skip the temporary setup and put in the regular service at the beginning of the job. This usually means installing a pedestal — a permanent post to which the electric meter is mounted (see Figure 1).

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