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Q. Why doesn’t AEP Ohio bury power lines?

by on July 3, 2012

Burying power lines is extremely expensive. It has been estimated to cost more than $1 million per mile to do this.  While underground lines are nice, they also come with technical issues. For example, if there is a problem with the line, crews might have to dig up the line to find the cause and repair it.  When lines are overhead, all a troubleman has to do is look up and see the problem.

Five years of underground and overhead reliability comparisons for North Carolina’s investor-owned electric utilities – Duke Energy, Progress Energy and Dominion – found that the frequency of outages on underground systems was 50% less than for overhead systems, but the average duration of an underground outage was 58% longer. Because those repair times are typically much longer, customers served by underground lines are usually among the last to have power restored

3 Comments
  1. Greg permalink

    I really doubt that AEP is truly being empirical when it comes to this issue. If the outage is half as often then there’s already going to be a savings. How much is AEP paid over the last 40 years in over time and flying crews in, tree trimming, lightning struck poles and transformers etc. A lot of it is also a one time cost. If there had been a plan in place 40 years ago, it would be a cheaper and more reliable system in place today. We’re not saying to bury ALL of the lines but it would be nice to have a plan in place where over time lines are systematically buried.

    See this article….

    http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-02/opinion/opinion_frum-buried-lines_1_power-lines-power-outages-heat-wave

    If AEP or preferably an independent company would perform and publish these studies so the general public can be educated that would be great. New developments, downtown etc have lines underground so it’s not so expensive that would preclude anyone from underground lines.

    Saying it’s going to cost a Million dollars for one mile really just sounds like an exaggeration.

  2. Sarah J permalink

    I come from the Chicago area where lines are buried, and in 30+ years of living there we never had an outage lasting more than a few hours. Bury the lines, and there’s no need to repair them after a bad storm like this one. Bury the lines, and the trees can grow where ever and however they want.

  3. Erika Jackson permalink

    Seem like we are 50%more likely to lose power which means we get week long outages two to three times a yr. you have to pay crews from all over to come reconnect us and their lodging / overtime.. It still makes more since to pay to put the lines underground. We see the wind blow here and freak out because the power is going out. It doesn’t make since you pay a lot of money for repair crews when you could bury the lines and not deal with it. Not to mention, we really don’t have a choice in the matter it is decided for us.

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