Category: Power Lines

The Pros and Cons of Underground Power Lines

Strong winds and storms can cause tree branches to fall on the power lines under them and cause interference and outages. Even if the power men in your area are always on call and available to help, the questions remain, will you rather keep your power lines overhead or take it underground?

To deliver electricity to your homes, as Underground Service Locating, there are two possible ways to do it, these are: through the overhead lines or through the underground cables. While underground lines may be tempting because of storms, as they are not open to the extreme weather conditions, accessibility-focused electricity operatives have their reservations, they claim it does not always make complete sense. Most of the underground lines are located in areas where the developers demand and pay for it simply because of aesthetic reasons. So most of the households in the area contribute financially to make this happen.

Most of the cooperative energy in the nation is delivered through overhead lines, including those provided to subdivisions. The LREC had only 8 miles covered by underground lines as of 2012, and about 2951 miles was covered by overhead lines. This is because the LREC is a non-profit organization, which aim is to provide reliable power to consumers at affordable rates.

It is not a secret that the cables which are above the ground are being destroyed by storms and wind, and this has made the idea of passing cables underground even more appealing and talked about lately. However, the only setback is that it requires more care in setting up. It is also more expensive than the overhead method.

Both methods of energy distribution have their pros and cons. For example, the underground structures are safer and reliable in the event of a storm and it requires less maintenance since there are no shrubs, trees, or any of the other vegetation to pose a threat which then requires cleaning. However, when there are faults in the underground power lines, these faults are not that easy to follow up and fix. The increased cost of setting up, repair and maintenance have been compared by the LREC along with it benefits, and the results have shown that the savings or benefits did not outweigh the expensive cost of installation.

On the other hand, when a tree falls on a power line, it can be tracked down and fixed, since it is visible and open, power can easily be restored. That’s also the case when an open cross arm or broken insulator is to be fixed since it can be seen overhead, it can easily be fixed. But underground power lines aren’t that easy to fix. There is a need for serious troubleshooting. And since you cannot find the problem with your eyes, you have to start a serious search, you must track it down to where power flow stops.

Then a line crew must dig a hole if you must reach the spot where repair is needed. Also, if there is a need to tap existing power lines to extend the power into new homes or businesses, it becomes a lot more expensive.

In the light of these, the overhead lines which are more affordable are the norm for many electric cooperative members.