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Power outage - why not put the power lines underground?

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elf Donating Member (805 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:30 AM
Original message
Power outage - why not put the power lines underground?



I live since 15 years in the USA. We lost power in Atlanta, Seattle and Miami.
The biggest problem after heavy storms is always the loss of power.
In Germany all power lines are underground.
Why not do it here, at least in towns and cities? It's expansive but in the long run it safes a lot of problems!
It could create right now a lot of jobs.
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qanda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:32 AM
Response to Original message
1. I am so grateful that our power lines are underground
We are one of the few neighborhoods to still have power in AA County, MD.
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canoeist52 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:37 AM
Response to Original message
2. Now that would be a great stimulus project!
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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:43 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Sure would. But no one will fund such a project.
What is needed in this country now is an ultra, ultra rich person that has a sense of civic responsibility and is willing to spend reams of money for the public good, without expecting anything in return except satisfaction.
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elf Donating Member (805 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:46 AM
Response to Reply #2
10. Now that would be a great stimulus project!
That is what I'm always thinking about!
Years ago, when in Germany the cable TV was installed you saw in every town or city lots of teams put the cables underground and connect the houses. Lots of jobs for a lot of people.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #10
45. That's a great idea - we know the weather is going to keep getting worse, too.
And they won't have to trim the trees back from the power lines anymore,
the trees can provide more shade in the summer,
especially over the blacktop used on roads.

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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:38 AM
Response to Original message
3. Because we don't have money to put into our infrastructure
The rich and the banksters need it more. :sarcasm:
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #3
28. The War Machine is another big drain on our finances.
Edited on Sun Aug-28-11 08:49 AM by Tesha
We spend more than *THE REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED*;
there's no need for that.

Cutting back on "defense" spending would allow huge
expenditures on more-important projects that would
have long term payback.

Tesha
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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
4. I wonder that every time there is a power outage due to storms
The cost to bury them is much more than overhead.

But most new developments require it.

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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:55 AM
Response to Reply #4
29. The trouble, of course, is that neighborhoods with underground distribution...
...are often still fed by overhead circuits "upstream".

Tesha
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Lochloosa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 09:41 AM
Response to Reply #29
34. Yes, but those overhead circuits are quite capable of withstanding the winds.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #34
36. I'm not referring to the long-haul transmission lines.
I'm referring to good-old 13,000 volt distribution
circuits. Your neighborhood may be fully underground
(like so many new neighborhoods are around here) but
at the entry to the neighborhood, the underground
feeder(s) pop up, climb a pole, and connect via
fused disconnects to one (or several) phases of
the 13KV distribution line passing by.

Tesha




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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
5. Money.
Power companies will not bury and re-wire lines unless forced to by law. The chances of laws getting passed are remote. With government having abdicated it's societal role starting with Reagan, don't expect government to step forward.
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-..__... Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:50 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. The cost is pretty staggering.
The community I work for discussed putting lines underground years ago and it never went beyond the "suggestion" when they figured out the costs (and this is a very well off community).

That was about 8-10 years ago when the price of copper was still reasonable.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #12
30. Happily, most transmission and distribution lines are aluminum or aluminum-over-steel.
They haven't been copper for ages!

Tesha
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HereSince1628 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #5
33. Around here there are power, telephone, and cable lines
running pole-to-pole. I'm guessing but it seems likely that one of those utilities would be 'renting' or otherwise exchanging value with the other carriers. Anyone know about that?
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jeff47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #33
40. Usually they're owned by the power company and the other utilities are leasing space. (nt)
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glowing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:42 AM
Response to Original message
6. In my neighborhood, they are underground. Unfortunately, the power coming into the
neighborhood still have above ground lines. When we lose power its due to the above ground electric lines.

I think its part of the vision of the future to have the powergrid upgraded for modern times. Its part of that "building America" vision we all had when President Obama was campaigning for the job. There are so many items of housekeeping that we desperately need to address. Its why people are pissed off when paying taxes. When you can't see your tax money being used for tangible betterment of the country, it seems like wasted money to had over hard earned money to the Govt.

We could even "marry" solar power into this re-build. Putting individual solar or wind power on homes would help from using so much fossil fuel for the big power plants.
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-..__... Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
8. Cut down all the trees...
at least any that are close to, or could take down power lines in the event of a storm.
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Cirque du So-What Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
9. You nailed it
It's expensive. The life-cycle cost of an underground power cable is two to four times the cost of an overhead power line. Above ground lines cost around $10 per foot and underground lines cost in the range of $20 to $40 per foot.

http://www.eei.org/ourissues/electricitydistribution/Do...

Also, it's more difficult to effect repairs than with overhead lines - especially when a fault occurs far from an access point. Repairs that take hours with overhead lines can often take days or even weeks on underground lines. For that reason, redundant lines are often run, but that adds to the cost (see link above).

http://www.entergy.com/2008_hurricanes/Underground-line...

Part of the reason why repairs take longer is that the lines must be de-energized before attempting repairs, as underground lines are in close proximity with the earth (ground).

http://www.gridnewzealand.co.nz/faqs-transmission

As tempting as it is to look at underground power transmission as a panacea, there are practical considerations. Take another look at the photo you posted. Power crews can still work on overhead lines - even with flooded streets - but that wouldn't be possible where underground lines are submerged. On balance, I'd rather have electricity delivered by underground cables, but as I mentioned earlier, it's hardly a cure-all.
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:46 AM
Response to Original message
11. Every time there is construction work, there would be outages. n/t
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elf Donating Member (805 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:14 AM
Response to Reply #11
21. there are very seldom problems
and if, they shut off your house (not entire blocks) and the repair is done in a very short time, often in an hour!
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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:57 AM
Response to Original message
13. Germany is about the size of Montana
So what is easy to do in Germany can be pretty insurmountable in the U.S., especially when the uber-rich won't let any money escape from their grubby mitts.
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hobbit709 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:00 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. I think they're talking about urban areas.
The transmission lines in Germany aren't underground, just the lines in urban areas.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 07:58 AM
Response to Original message
14. "Undergrounding lines" is expensive.
Americans are penny-wise but pound-foolish.

Every year, we lose power multiple times owing to
branches falling on power lines. Sometimes, we lose
power for days or weeks at a time.

But the costs of these incidents are largely "dis-
tributed" among all the individual ratepayers whereas
the costs of burying the power lines would show up in
a few very large line items in the power company's
budget.

Tesha
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hobbit709 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. As an expense, they could write it off on their taxes that they don't pay now.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #14
44. It's not just the cost -- breaks still happen, and they're much harder to find & fix underground
This isn't simply a case of people refusing to spend money.
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:03 AM
Response to Original message
17. They'd rather spend tax $$$ on killing folks (wars). nt
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crazyjoe Donating Member (921 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:06 AM
Response to Original message
18. it would cost billions !! that's why
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quaker bill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:07 AM
Response to Original message
19. After 3 hurricanes in 1 year
they are doing it here. It is expensive, but I benefit from the many high priced neighborhoods nearby.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:07 AM
Response to Original message
20. More cities and towns are underground now. However, our eastern
coastal towns are some of the oldest in North America. It would also have to be pushed at the federal level as many smaller communities do not have the resources to take it on.
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jimlup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:19 AM
Response to Original message
22. In America we think only in terms of short term profit
The politicians are only concerned with the very next election.
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elf Donating Member (805 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:25 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. Quick fix everywhere......
never thinking about the days ahead.....(sorry but that's my experience)
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TalkingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #22
46. Winnah!!!!
Every year we have an ice storm. Every year thousands without power. But as long as Duke Energy gets theirs... fuck all those little people.
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Papagoose Donating Member (361 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:20 AM
Response to Original message
23. I miss underground utility wires
I moved from Philadelphia, to NW Georgia, about 70 miles west of Atlanta. It never even crossed my mind before I moved in, but I hate my above ground wires here. The power goes out frequently, forget about cable - it's about useless and we lose telephone service when we really NEED it the most - during an emergency. Not even mentioning how ugly the poles and wires across my lawn are.
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glowing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:34 AM
Response to Original message
25. AND utility companies are private here. The Govt doesn't "own" them for the most part.
Private industry refuses to spend money unless they are regulated to do so. The idea that private electric services can be cheaper than Govt because of "competition" is a farce. How many people actually have the option of choosing between 2 different electric companies in their area. Just another privatized scheme to take what should be a public entity, into the privatized hands of the greedy profiteers.. Its also the reason that its extremely hard for the US Govt to switch gears and go solar or wind powered. The govt is not the direct owner of the companies providing electricity. New ways are costly and the power companies don't want to spend the R & D money on upgrades or forward thinking.

Water, Electric, and Sewer should be items that should NEVER have been sold off to the private corporations to look after. At first they may appear to be cheaper, but soon enough, they are gouging prices and offering shitty, sub-standard services.
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lumberjack_jeff Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #25
37. Those of us served by Public Utility Districts are lucky.
Unfortunately, PUD's are under siege and have no allies in government.
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TheCowsCameHome Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:36 AM
Response to Original message
26. The cost is prohibitive.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 08:47 AM
Response to Original message
27. Profit. nt
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 09:08 AM
Response to Original message
31. We can't afford it - we have too many foreign wars to fight.
But I'm sure the Free Market(TM) will eventually take care of it!
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littlewolf Donating Member (920 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 09:10 AM
Response to Original message
32. our development has the power lines underground ....
it is great .... thankfully we didn't lose power during Irene ....
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JustAnotherGen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 09:56 AM
Response to Original message
35. Mine are
I've not lost power at all. Neighborhoods around me have lost poet that don't have them underground. It would be an awesome infrastructure opportunity!
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 10:14 AM
Response to Original message
38. In beachside communities the high salt water table procludes
wire burial.
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Lucian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 10:21 AM
Response to Original message
39. When I lived in the country...
my power lines were underground and the power would go out occasionally because gophers would chew through the lines.

Not kidding.
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Dappleganger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 11:22 AM
Response to Original message
41. For the prices we pay for our monthly utility bill they should be fucking wireless by now.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
42. Because when there's a problem it takes MUCH longer to fix
And it costs a whole lot more.
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jeff47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-11 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
43. Because when you dig a little into the ground where the hurricanes hit, you get water.
The water table is quite close to the surface in coastal areas where hurricanes are a problem. That makes burying the lines a lot more difficult.
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