Leaking Dominion Energy transformer damages Chesapeake man’s property


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Chesapeake man has a battle with Dominion Energy, but it is not because of his light bill.

John Ertmann says oil from a transformer leaked onto his car, costing him a bundle to fix it.

Ertmann says Dominion Energy supervisor asked him why he did not call sooner, he had to explain he did not know where the one damaging leak was coming from, until day…

“I looked up, and I saw the line itself dripping, and I said ‘BINGO’ that’s where it is. I finally figured it out, the line wasn’t leaking; the transformer was and then was running down the line and falling to the ground.”

It took weeks for John Ertmann to figure out the damage to his driveway and business van was caused by a Dominion Energy transformer. He called Dominion Energy and a supervisor showed up immediately, and replaced the transformer.

“I said what is that oil coming out of the transformer? He said, ‘oh it’s the same thing you put in your turkey fryer.’ I said ‘peanut oil?’ He said, ‘No, it’s mineral oil.’”

Mineral oil acts as an insulator keeping the transformer cool. And it was leaking, running down the line, then falling onto Ertmann’s property.

“The line of oil goes across the driveway, and you can see where it actually got into the asphalt and has really done a lot of destruction in the asphalt itself.”

He is right in that area, we were able to punch a pen into the hole and it was soft, and that was caused by the leaking oil.

The worst damage is on Ertmann’s van.

“This is where the oil dripped down and has left streaks down my van and lettering on the side of the van. This paint is never going to be the same. Like I said, this has been detailed after Dominion Energy came out and discovered what it was.”

Ertmann complained to Dominion Energy which took no responsibility for any negligence.

“Our company honors claims that are the result of negligence on behalf of Dominion Energy Virginia…Our investigation revealed…overhead transformer was leaking mineral oil…,” Dominion Energy wrote to Ertmann in response. “There were no reasonable means of prevention on the part of Dominion Energy for this incident…”we must respectfully deny your claim for damages; However,…we will reimburse you any exterior clean-up impacted by the oil.”

The problem is that Ertmann already spent $425 for an exterior clean, including two hand waxes, but it could not get out the black streaks caused by the leaking mineral oil from the Dominion Energy transfer station.

“I am thinking they need to repaint the van. That is like putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. The clean-up is getting the lines off the van, and that van is my bread and butter because that is my work vehicle.”

Ertmann added, “I called 10 on Your Side because I wanted to see some action and to point out to them what is going on.”

Late Friday afternoon, 10 On Your Side received the response below from Dominion Energy:

“Mr. Ertmann may submit his claim for exterior cleanup and exterior detailing and Dominion Energy will reimburse. For additional exterior damage, he should pursue the matter with his insurance company.”

As for the driveway Dominion Energy said Ertmann can file a claim to have his driveway power washed and resealed and Dominion Energy will review for reimbursement.

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