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Should the US Put Power Lines Underground?

Accepted submission by Phoenix666 at 2017-09-13 12:54:38
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It is the height of a highly destructive hurricane season in the United States. The devastation of Harvey in Texas and Louisiana caused nearly 300,000 customers [energy.gov] to lose electricity service, and Hurricane Irma has cut service to millions of people [energy.gov]. Soon, winter storms will bring wind and snow to much of the country.

Anxious people everywhere worry about the impact these storms might have on their safety, comfort and convenience. Will they disrupt my commute to work? My children's ride to school? My electricity service?

When it comes to electricity, people turn their attention to the power lines overhead and wonder if their electricity service might be more secure if those lines were buried underground [phys.org]. But having studied this question [ufl.edu] for utilities and regulators, I can say the answer is not that straightforward. Burying power lines, also called undergrounding, is expensive, requires the involvement of many stakeholders and might not solve the problem at all.

Would burying power lines render them more weather-proof?


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