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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-07-2009, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Underground Powerlines in Kentucky

The Department of Pulling Numbers Out of Their Ass have come up with a figure of $1Million per mile for putting our electric transmission lines underground, and we have 2900 miles of them. Considering we have one of these Ice Events about once every 5 or 6 years, it just doesn't seem like a good ROI to me.


Are buried power lines feasible?
By Andy Mead - amead@herald-leader.com

"Bury the Damned Power Lines Already."

A group with that name sprang up on the social networking site Facebook a week and a half ago, shortly after ice-laden trees started crashing through the lines that carried electricity to more than 700,000 Kentucky homes and businesses.

The group quickly grew to more than 1,000 members, most from Louisville and Lexington, but at least one from as far away as Australia.



Some of the early postings bashed utility companies for allowing bad weather to create the state's largest-ever natural disaster.

But the discussion soon turned more thoughtful. Some suggested that putting power lines underground would be an excellent "shovel-ready" project for the economic stimulus package being debated in Washington. Others argued that personal costs, such as spoiled food and the purchase of generators, should be added to the equation of whether overhead lines should be buried. There was a thread debating whether electric utilities should be publicly owned.

A recurring theme: if people want power lines buried, they should be willing to pay.

As it turns out, that can be a staggeringly expensive proposition.

And, although stringing lines on poles dates back to the late 1800s, there doesn't appear to be a practical 21st-century energy delivery system on the horizon that doesn't require running a line into your house.

A 2006 study by the Edison Electric Institute, an association of utilities, looked at previous studies and performance records. The bottom line: burying lines can cost $1 million a mile — about 10 times the cost of overhead lines. That could drive electric rates up 80 to 125 percent.

Those numbers may be low.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has estimated it could cost $3 million a mile. For that entire state, it said, the job could cost $41 billion and take 25 years.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has conducted no such study here.

Andrew Melnykovych, the commission's public information officer, said that even with the power outages caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike last September, and the worse problems caused by the ice storm, "you still have to question whether it is cost effective to bury lines to avoid these kind of outages."

Lexington was mostly spared by Ike, and the costs of the recent storm have not been compiled.

But the ice storm that paralyzed the city in 2003, knocking out power to more than 130,000 homes and businesses, ended up costing Kentucky Utilities $23 million in repairs.

KU has 2,900 miles of overhead distribution lines in Lexington's urban services area. At the $1-million-a-mile estimate, burying the lines could equal the cost of 126 of the 2003-magnitude storms.

Individual homeowners can have the line from the nearest pole to their home buried. But burying the lines for an entire neighborhood, say, for example, Chevy Chase, could be very difficult because not everyone would go along with the paying the extra price.

"We could not very well have one house with above-ground service and five houses in a row with underground followed by two houses above ground," KU spokesman Cliff Feltham said.

Even if an entire neighborhood did agree, Feltham said, the lines still would have to be above ground somewhere between that area and the power plant. Transmission lines, which carry heavy voltage loads, are even more expensive to bury because they generate heat and need to be encased in a coolant.

Many people see underground lines as an alternative to trimming trees.

But Melnykovych points out that burying lines in an established neighborhood could be extremely disruptive.

He advises that people look at what is under and around existing lines and imagine a trench going there.

"People will say 'Well, if you bury the lines you don't have to trim my tree.' No, but you may have to tear the tree out to get the line underground."

Underground power lines aren't susceptible to falling trees or limbs, but they are not trouble-free.

The Edison Electric study says underground lines have fewer power outages. But when they happen, they tend to last a lot longer.

Are buried power lines feasible? - Latest News - Kentucky.com

McBear,
Kentucky

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by mcbear View Post
The Department of Pulling Numbers Out of Their Ass have come up with a figure of $1Million per mile for putting our electric transmission lines underground, and we have 2900 miles of them. Considering we have one of these Ice Events about once every 5 or 6 years, it just doesn't seem like a good ROI to me.
..
One worker to dig the hole, ten to hold traffic diversion signs.

That's what the Pelooosi stimulus is full of. What's the ROI on a resurfaced platform ?
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 01:14 AM
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You best get to some of the meetings and voice your opinion.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 06:47 AM
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 09:23 AM
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One worker to dig the hole, ten to hold traffic diversion signs.

That's what the Pelooosi stimulus is full of. What's the ROI on a resurfaced platform ?
Wrong again: any given Sate Department of Anything has maybe 30 or so actual state employees max – those are contracted private sector employees you see screwing around. If you want your tax dollars spent well make sure there’s adequate oversight of he contractors who are just as prone to waste – perhaps more so – as a state agency.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 09:26 AM
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^^^ Americans, go figure.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 09:42 AM
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I lived in my current home for several years before I realized there was no power lines from a power pole coming to my house. That's when I found out we had underground power lines.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Multipurpose View Post
You best get to some of the meetings and voice your opinion.
I doubt it would be necessary. Once the price is laid out for the region and the state, and that is correlated with the time between incidents, folks are smart enough to know not to pour money down a hole [or in this case a 2900 mile ditch].

The $2.9Billion pricetag for Lexington alone would be $20K per household. I am guessing that NO will be the resounding answer. As it should be.

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 01:31 PM
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I doubt it would be necessary. Once the price is laid out for the region and the state, and that is correlated with the time between incidents, folks are smart enough to know not to pour money down a hole [or in this case a 2900 mile ditch].

The $2.9Billion pricetag for Lexington alone would be $20K per household. I am guessing that NO will be the resounding answer. As it should be.
That would be incredible stimulus for the LX's economy. What's the problem ?
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 02:12 PM
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The $2.9Billion pricetag for Lexington alone would be $20K per household. I am guessing that NO will be the resounding answer. As it should be.
Imagine, that kind of money is enough to pay the war profiteers and insurgents on our payroll in Iraq for an entire week! Now that's a smart investment! To create an illusion that Shrub's "surge" was a stroke of a genius!

Last edited by p100; 02-08-2009 at 02:14 PM.
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