Put Power Lines Underground?

Posted by Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

I’m curious to know why the power companies have not yet decided to put power lines underground. Once again we see millions of people without power, when a long term investment could prevent almost all power outages in the future. The lost revenue alone, not to mention the savings on emergency crews and vehicles, must make it worth the investment. Share the costs with cable and phone companies who can use the same excavations. Or maybe use the same workings as water and gas pipes?  – David, Methuen

Great idea….but not quite that simple.

The answer has several parts.   The first is the cost.  It costs utility companies about $1-million per mile to put power lines underground.  That’s 10 times more expensive than above ground lines.

Then there’s the cost of repairs.  If something does go wrong with the underground cables, it costs much more to fix it and usually takes much longer.

And finally, you’re really not eliminating risk completely when you have underground lines.  You’re just trading off one risk for another.  You may have reduced the risk of losing power because a pole or a tree blew into the lines, but the risk of outages because of storm surge or flooding increases.

However, in newer housing developments you often don’t see telephone polls strung with wires…so it can be done.  But in those cases they’re burying everything in the first place, not ripping out what’s there and replacing it.

If your power was out these last couple of days and it’s been restored, how did you manage?

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