I went on a bicycle ride the other Saturday, and it was raining out. Usually, I try not to go on training rides in the rain, but it was only misting when I started. Unfortunately, it turned into real rain when I was about five miles from home. So I got wet, big deal, just call it a free shower.

But the weirdest thing to me was when I rode under the transmission lines that skirt Columbus. The lines were sizzling. This was unexpected, even to me, a rather more educated person when it comes to the electric system.

I know that transmission lines sag more during times of high use, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear them sizzle when they are under high use. But it was a Saturday when I was riding, and the temperatures were such that not an over abundance of electricity was flowing through the lines, just the normal amount.

Maybe my cousin or brother who are “in the field” could comment on this, and tell me it is OK. Until then, I will have to assume that they will always sizzle and most people won’t know about it because they are usually in their cars, oblivious to the small things of the world around them.

Categorized as Troy


  1. It may not have been the “normal amount” due to transmission lines or generators down for maintenance. In reality curtailment a lot of time happens during times of non-traditional peak becuase generation may be down to have maintenance done before it is really needed. Although when you think about it, at 138,000 volts, with probably close to 300 amps running through it, the line was probably pretty warm and the rain pretty cold…I guess sizzeling makes sense.

    Toj…I will wait for your $0.02.

  2. OK, so those are 138,000 volt lines. I never knew what voltage they were at. How come I can never find a state transmission line map when I need one?

  3. You could also have experienced the effects of corona discharge. The corona phenomenon is pretty common in transmission lines and the moisture can help reduce the voltage at which it is noticeable. As this website states, “the presence of moisture simply magnifies the effect.”

    As for determining the voltage of a line, simply count the insulator bells! These are the large bell-shaped pieces, typically made out of ceramic, that you see connecting the line to the tower. I’ll leave it to you to guess how many bells equals which voltage!


  4. It might be 69,000 volts too. I’m not sure where in Columbus you are??? But like Toj said count the bells…I taught him that little trick πŸ™‚

    Buzzing can happen from a cracked insulator too…

  5. PS…that is knowledge that I just have…Toj probably had to ask his boss πŸ™‚


  6. … and it is signed “P.E.” Wow!

    I noticed the sizzling when I was on Hwy 73 heading south out of Columbus.

    Maybe I will get out there tonight and see if they are sizzling during the super storm we are supposed to have! If this storm does develop, I just hope my big trees in front of my house can hold up to it! Otherwise, I just might make that investment into a chainsaw!

    “I’m a lumberjack baby
    But I ain’t jacked my lumber baby
    Since my chain saw you” — Jackyl, “The Lumberjack”

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