Buried Power Lines

Oh we already have tornadoes, but we don’t build in the areas in which they’re frequent. For example, in Spain they’re pretty common in the eastern half of the Central Mesa (Guadalajara, Cuenca, Albacete and Teruel provinces), but that area happens to be very low-density; the large(ish) towns are never in a frequent tornado path.

We also get hurricane-force winds, but not sustained and again in known paths. For people living in the Ebro or Rhine Valleys it isn’t terribly unusual to have been complaining that “damn it’s way too windy today” and then at night be told by the weather report that those winds actually qualified as “hurricane forces” - “gee, I knew it was way too windy!”

We have cheap electricity. Maybe they have a robust power grid in Germany (I don’t know) but I doubt it’s worth tripling everyone’s bill to replicate it.

I think it might be possible though. Gas lines are of course buried, and I’ve seen utility crews running a little robot through (smaller than human-sized) access tunnels to sniff for leaks. Buried power lines run through some sort of protective tube, right? Seems like you could send a robot through to check power lines as well.

yes , I left out the word built in my post.

also does the power company pay the cost of power lines in a new subdivision? Or is that cost paid by the developer?

No part of Europe has anywhere close to as many tornadoes per square mile as the United States. 75% of all the world’s tornadoes happen in the United States, and a disproportionate share of those happen in the American midwest/plains.

Tornadoes can and have happened essentially everywhere, but they are vastly more common in the United States. Atlantic Hurricanes may not hit Europe and as you note there are some large Atlantic storms that have hit Europe, but they are much rarer than the hurricanes generated every year in the Atlantic hurricane season that go on to hit the Caribbean and southern North America.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that utility rates are often controlled by regulating government bodies. Decisions to build new power plants or bury power lines can be swayed by public pressure on the regulators. It’s complicated.

I believe the power company puts in the lines. But they generally bill the developer. When we purchased our new home the cable TV company refused to pay the expense of running the conduit for cable. Their stand was the developer should pay for it because it would help with the selling of the new homes. Where the earlier subdivisions had cable and a deed restriction about putting an antenna on houses, we had neither.

When my brother check about getting hooked up to PG&E for 3 new houses on his property $35.000 was the price quoted to him. He is still off the grid.

I read that in NYC they are running out of space underground in some areas like Manhattan because they have too many cables for power, phone, cable, etc.

Also because there’s not much incentive for removing no longer used cables.

And if you have a typical 600-pair copper wires cable going from a central office to a building, before you can remove it, you have to have technicians verify that none of those 600 pairs are used by a customer, and if a single one is still used, you can’t remove that cable. It’s cheaper to not do that, and just leave it in place.

Overhead lines aren’t as bad as some people think as far as reliability goes. When I moved into my current house (20 years ago) there happened to be overhead lines all over the place, and I was planning on getting a backup generator and putting in a transfer switch and all of that (I’m an electrical engineer). But, in the past 20 years, we’ve only had the power go out twice for more than a minute or two, and one of those was when a main transformer at the substation basically blew up. I’ve never bothered to get a generator.

Having redundant feeds for all of the different segments is generally more important than burying the lines. That way if a tree does short out some wires, you only lose that local segment, and feeds from different directions keep power on all of the surrounding segments. It’s when you have long runs that aren’t segmented and only have a single feed that any fault takes out a huge area.

Most newer developments have underground lines more for aesthetic reasons than for reliability reasons. From a reliability viewpoint, moving older lines underground has a huge cost with very little benefit.