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Should utility electric
lines go underground?
A look at the costs

Bloomberg News, by Staff

Original Article

Posted By:Ribicon, 11/13/2012 11:01:15 PM

Hurricane Sandy’s record blackouts and prolonged recovery laid bare the U.S. electrical grid’s vulnerability to wind and flood, renewing calls for utilities to invest billions to toughen their defenses against extreme weather that may become more common. European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom routinely bury cables that connect homes to power networks, protecting them from wind and ice. U.S. utilities have balked at moving more infrastructure below ground, saying consumers would object to spending as much as $2.1 million a mile, according to one industry estimate, to bury wires for a system that’s not fail-safe.

Comments:
A peek at the costs behind the latest unicorn.

      


Post Reply  

Reply 1 - Posted by: Phil_hk, 11/13/2012 11:16:06 PM     (No. 9012712)

Lots of places in the Gulf Coast have done this. Without government subsidies

Only weak willed, corrupt, union thug, Yankee idiots need help from the government

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Reply 2 - Posted by: texaspast, 11/13/2012 11:28:35 PM     (No. 9012734)

2.1 mil a MILE??? What are they using, golden shovels??? Dude, you could install a gas pipeline for less than that!

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Reply 3 - Posted by: BaseballFan, 11/13/2012 11:43:55 PM     (No. 9012754)

You got that right, #2. That cost HAS to factor in the cost of buying the land needed at market prices, which represents the lion´s share of that figure - but the land / Right-of-way is already there!
Back when fiber optic cables were going in, they were putting those cables INSIDE abandoned gas lines, oil lines, anywhere they could get a straight line drawn. I guarantee you that they weren´t paying $2MM per mile for that.
/s on/ On the other hand, maybe they´re figuring in the cost of the union boss´ new home, car, mistress, etc. /s off/

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Reply 4 - Posted by: thelmalou, 11/13/2012 11:59:11 PM     (No. 9012773)

I love the idea, but as y´all say, $2M/mi. is crazy. I´ve often wished they had originally put them underground instead of running them on poles, simply for aesthetics. But it´s practical, too.



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Reply 5 - Posted by: bobdog, 11/14/2012 12:14:10 AM     (No. 9012784)

While they´re at it, they should move all those damned windmills underground, too.



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Reply 6 - Posted by: tipover, 11/14/2012 12:15:52 AM     (No. 9012786)

Might protect from wind, ice but not so much against flooding salt water in the vaults. It might also be interesting in some locations to thread through the existing underground utilities. Any Electrical Engineers (Power) have an opinion?

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Reply 7 - Posted by: uno, 11/14/2012 12:33:51 AM     (No. 9012799)

It probably wouldn´t be too hard to convince the buffoons in this administration to consider underground fiber optic power transmission lines...
s/

I mean really, you gotta KNOW Biden would be all over that one!

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Reply 8 - Posted by: coldoc, 11/14/2012 12:38:00 AM     (No. 9012803)

We have underground power here in my part of AZ. Being a ham radio operator, I love it, but disliked the extra expense, logistics, and rules when building. Most installation here is done at the developers expense. The price quoted in the article seems to factor in the union factor, since the existing overhead lines are already in a utility easement.

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Reply 9 - Posted by: country boy, 11/14/2012 12:40:08 AM     (No. 9012806)

The discussion starts off as all or none, which makes it impossible. Around here, Northwest NJ, the downed poles are often in the same area, "high risk" for major outage. Might have to do with several mother nature type factors (wind zone, poor soil, large sedimentary rock formations underneath, etc). So maybe deal with the high fault areas only. Get a proposal for this and move forward.

There´s a small street 2 miles south of me. It is part of our main grid. Whenever there is high wind, those lines (200 yards) go down.

So, can we just deal with the high problem areas?

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Reply 10 - Posted by: Muggins, 11/14/2012 1:10:20 AM     (No. 9012824)

In cities, it is the most expensive because there are other utilities already in the ground. It requires engineering. It´s cheaper in the counties, and yet cheaper in the unincorporated areas. But, most people live in cities and it´s surrounds.

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Reply 11 - Posted by: JimS, 11/14/2012 1:12:36 AM     (No. 9012827)

The reporter is ignorant.
Of course England and Netherlands can afford to install power lines underground. They are smaller in size than many of our states and less populous.
And even then, only the local 100/200V lines to the residential and commercial customer hook-ups are underground. The high voltage transmission lines are aboveground. I am in England now and see them out my window.

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Reply 12 - Posted by: Trigger2, 11/14/2012 3:28:42 AM     (No. 9012890)

Only $2.1M a mile? With greedy unions doing the work, I would expect the cost to be at least $10M a mile.

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Reply 13 - Posted by: 901AtTheRiver, 11/14/2012 4:23:52 AM     (No. 9012921)

All new subdivision and industrial park construction in these parts have underground power distribution installed in conduit. It is mostly trouble-free and it does clean up the landscape nicely. Power transmission lines are still on poles. Putting the transmission lines under ground is a very expensive proposition.

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Reply 14 - Posted by: Envirodude, 11/14/2012 4:32:48 AM     (No. 9012924)

Until you build substations underground, the problem doesn´t go away

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Reply 15 - Posted by: Rumblehog, 11/14/2012 6:44:54 AM     (No. 9013023)

Usually, utility companies have easements, which means they don´t pay a penny for the land. Especially considering that underground lines can be placed directly underneath existing power poles. No, this is Yankee labor unions at work. Just look at Boston´s "Big Dig" for further evidence.

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Reply 16 - Posted by: Attercliffe, 11/14/2012 6:53:39 AM     (No. 9013036)

Bingo, #14. We´re in the metro Charleston, SC area and have buried lines. I love the idea of not having to worry about downed live power lines after a storm. But power can and does go out almost as often as in areas where the lines aren´t buried. The transformers in our area are scattered between backyards. A bad surge or lightning strike can take out the power.

Also on the plus side, repair is faster so only once in nine years have we been without power for more than about five or six hours, often much less than that. And landline phone and/or cable will stay on (most of the time). I hope the same applies to the new DSL or whatever that AT&T has put in this week.

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Reply 17 - Posted by: Rumblehog, 11/14/2012 7:17:46 AM     (No. 9013072)

#14, the potential may still exist, but the exposure is greatly reduced. Fixing one or two sub-stations, or waiting for surge water to recede is much quicker than repair and replacement of 10´s of thousands of damaged power poles and cables.
We have buried utilities here in Texas and our outages are very brief, even after severe tornadic storms. Besides, it looks better than all those poles that cars tend to wrap themselves around.

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Reply 18 - Posted by: preciosodrogas, 11/14/2012 8:41:04 AM     (No. 9013287)

Re: post 12, that´s only the bid cost, before the overruns, repairs, replacement of faulty materials, etc., it comes out to your $10m/mi. by completion.

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