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Thread: USA Today Editorial: To cut power outages, bury key electric lines

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    USA Today Editorial: To cut power outages, bury key electric lines

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion...nes/56119492/1

    In your fair community are your electric/cable lines buried ?

    Should this issue involve a landscape/tree ordinance ?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion...nes/56119492/1

    In your fair community are your electric/cable lines buried ?

    Should this issue involve a landscape/tree ordinance ?
    Problem is, and this is from my talking to some guys in the biz a while ago (because we wanted to talk about a mile run of underground transmission), once you get over a certain voltage, I want to say 125 kv, burying becomes very difficult because of the heat build up which actually leads to failures. Distribution should almost all be underground but transmission is almost impossible at a reasonable cost with today's technology to bury.
    @GigCityPlanner

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Problem is, and this is from my talking to some guys in the biz a while ago (because we wanted to talk about a mile run of underground transmission), once you get over a certain voltage, I want to say 125 kv, burying becomes very difficult because of the heat build up which actually leads to failures. Distribution should almost all be underground but transmission is almost impossible at a reasonable cost with today's technology to bury.
    It must be possible. There are no transmission lines that I've ever seen into downtown Boston, Back Bay, South End, etc. The power demands must be enormous.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    It must be possible. There are no transmission lines that I've ever seen into downtown Boston, Back Bay, South End, etc. The power demands must be enormous.
    Back in March of this past year there were outages in the Back Bay for days due to a tranformer that caught fire. Probably a rare event, although it was pretty troubling that it took the utility provider so long to restore power.

  5. #5
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I b!tch about this all the time. I think it really has to do with the upfront cost to the electric utilities to do so. Transmission lines can be buried safely and are in most new developments. The issue is the cost. I would guess maybe 10-15 times more expensive to bury then to string.

    Now I would like to see some statistics on the effectiveness of lines that are buried - number of outages, maintenance, etc. I would put money that buried lines last longer, have less issues, and overall would save money and having less outages.....

    I would be happy to see the government regulate this happen.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Back in March of this past year there were outages in the Back Bay for days due to a tranformer that caught fire. Probably a rare event, although it was pretty troubling that it took the utility provider so long to restore power.
    The amount of post outage work has been amazing and continues. Over the weekend, we walked by the area where the transformer blew and the streets were blocked off and there were a lot of construction vehicles around. Also, there has suddenly been a lot of work on other NStar infrastructure all over the Back Bay and South End. It makes riding a bike that more perilous.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Burying power lines is very, very expensive.

    Want the lines buried? How much do you want to pay for that?

    Mike

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I am with Tide on this one. Burying generally does have a higher up-front cost than overhead. That cost differential is narrower when you are talking about distribution, so it is afforable to to bury the lines servinf the houses on a street, estpecially when you factor in the long-term savings through lower maintenance costs and fewer outages. With distribution the costs escalate and there are more logistical hurdles to overcome.
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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    It must be possible. There are no transmission lines that I've ever seen into downtown Boston, Back Bay, South End, etc. The power demands must be enormous.
    There's a difference between buried and underground. I would put dollars to donuts that city transmission systems are in dedicated or shared underground culverts like the sewer system. Buried is surrounded by dirt and through narrow conduit.
    @GigCityPlanner

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I b!tch about this all the time. I think it really has to do with the upfront cost to the electric utilities to do so. Transmission lines can be buried safely and are in most new developments. The issue is the cost. I would guess maybe 10-15 times more expensive to bury then to string.
    There is upfront costs but there is also tremendous environmental concerns as well. In order to bury a transmission line a utility company has to trench out as wide as it is deep, so we're talking about 6' deep and 6' to each side. The amount of environmental disruption to top soil, plants, and root systems is huge and another deterant to burying it vice overhead which disturbs minimal surface and minimal underground environment.
    @GigCityPlanner

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    There's a difference between buried and underground. I would put dollars to donuts that city transmission systems are in dedicated or shared underground culverts like the sewer system. Buried is surrounded by dirt and through narrow conduit.
    That sounds pretty accurate. All I know is that when I flip the switch, the lights go on. I like how these forums can be educational.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    There is upfront costs but there is also tremendous environmental concerns as well. In order to bury a transmission line a utility company has to trench out as wide as it is deep, so we're talking about 6' deep and 6' to each side. The amount of environmental disruption to top soil, plants, and root systems is huge and another deterant to burying it vice overhead which disturbs minimal surface and minimal underground environment.
    Remember we have transmission, distribution, and service lines. What are we burying?

    Here in the Intermountain West, this is less of an issue. And remember: we have ~250K thousand miles of gas pipelines everywhere. Burying all over the place is already done. But the cost of undergrounding - as above - is the issue. You have to weigh the cost upfront vs back-end when millions of trees fall in a storm. Which will be getting more frequent with man-made climate change.

    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion...nes/56119492/1

    In your fair community are your electric/cable lines buried ?

    Should this issue involve a landscape/tree ordinance ?
    Out where I am they are, except for the transmission lines. It is in the development regs where the easement goes. But I agree with the implication that the tree ordinances should be concurrent.
    -------
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Some numbers for you all to chew on:

    "According to a 2006 study by the Edison Electric Institute, which found that underground power transmission lines cost approximately $1 million per mile, or 10 times the cost of overhead lines." (Similar argument to why we build surface parking vs. deck parking)

    "A five-year study in North Carolina found that underground systems had 50 percent fewer outages, but that the duration of the outages was 58 percent longer."
    @GigCityPlanner

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    It's two-sided. Bury the lines, and you will have less outages. But you will not eliminate the outages, you'll spend more, and when you do have the outages you will have OUTAGES! because buried lines are hard to fix. I'd personally argue that you should probably focus more on redundancy in the overhead lines, and cutting the tree branches back. Issac would have been downright uneventful if it weren't for all the tree branches tangled through the power lines here in New Orleans.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JusticeZero View post
    It's two-sided. Bury the lines, and you will have less outages. But you will not eliminate the outages, you'll spend more, and when you do have the outages you will have OUTAGES! because buried lines are hard to fix. I'd personally argue that you should probably focus more on redundancy in the overhead lines, and cutting the tree branches back. Issac would have been downright uneventful if it weren't for all the tree branches tangled through the power lines here in New Orleans.
    I agree. I believe one of the difficulties in restoring power post-Sandy was that in many areas, power lines were run along back lot lines, and because the homeowners didn't want their trees disturbed, the trees didn't get trimmed. When the trees or parts of them came down, they took the power lines with them.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Yeah, I pass a lot of trees tangled in with power lines on my way anywhere, and some of them were cut back after Issac after it was too late.. here, the ground is unstable too, so that is even more inadvisable. If you want to put in some money to make the systems more reliable, add redundancy so that it takes a lot more trees to knock the power out of an area, and so that the fixes bring power up to more area.

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