Hurricane Charley

With this hurricane Charlie wrecking havoc in Florida,I came to the conclusion that some of Floridians are stupid,at least government there is.
Look on TV at the pictures from Florida and tell me what you see: yes ,homes are destroyed I know,but next I see hydro poles knockt down to the ground and then hundreds of thousand of people are without electricity for week or months.
Without electricity our society can not function properly ,so I have this question
Could not they in hurricane affected areas put electric transmission lines underground? I know is expensive but then you would not have to worry each time stronger wind comes around.
Don’t let me started on how we can build stronger homes and infrastructure instead of building this crap.

Hmmmmm…underground electrical cables…in a state where the water table depth is measured in inches…where it rains all the time…ya, that’d be a great idea!

Water is not the issue. Power cables are routinely run underwater–it’s not difficult to make insulation waterproof; indeed it is so almost naturally. The problem is primarily expense. It costs more to make cables that are guaranteed waterproof, as well as to dig, bury and maintain underground lines. In many areas, power lines are run underground (though, not high-voltage transmission lines), but these were usually run as part of some major construction projects, such as building new roads or whatnot.

I ran into this in my old home town, which was hit by three ice storms and a derecho in the course of eight years.

There’s an immense cost in running and repairing underground electrical cabling – and the decision to string wires on poles or run underground is based on the net anticipated cost based on expectations of repairs.

I.e., if you have an ice storm or a hurricane taking down lines once every three years, it’s cheaper to replace lines taken down by the storm than it is to build the underground system. If it’s a several-times-a-year occurrence, it may be cheaper to put the lines underground in the first place.

(Of course, municipal laws requiring that power lines be placed underground supersede these calculations – but they’re often defeated by public opinion when utility companies explain the added costs to their customer base for doing so.)

For example in Europe they put almost all their transmission lines underground (except out in the country). And by the way it looks more esthetically pleasing to the eye without those ugly poles smack in the middle of the city.

But there are no poles “smack in the middle of the city” anywhere I’ve ever been in the U.S. All downtown areas have the lines buried.

Only residential areas in cities have above-ground poles. And even those are sometimes placed for aesthetic purposes. The lines on my block run down the lot-line separator at the back of my property. This makes my street look nicer, but it means that any time a pole goes down it is much more difficult to repair.

The cost of putting all electric lines underground in the U.S. has been studied numerous times. IIRC, the cost is in the trillions.

I’m not sure how European countries afford to do so, but I have to assume that they have (or at least had when it was installed) a national grid run and paid for the national government. With the cost structure so different in the U.S., none of the thousands of local utilities could afford to do so on their own, and at this point neither could the government. The U.S. is so huge and built-up areas so sprawling that it is just not practical.

:shrug: Would you rather have a utility truck with a ladder and bucket in your yard or a backhoe when the lines had to be repaired?

After instaling underground lines ,you would never again see backhoe in your backyard.
Those are underground cables,Duhh.
They might only break during earthquake or construction crew sewers them,in normal use underground cables almost never break down.Troubles occur with the transformers,which every transmission grid has to use.

True, but mostly because nobody would bother to install underground lines through a backyard. They’d put them out under the street.

Not exactly true, although the breakage of cables by work crews is indeed a huge problem, one regularly encountered by electric utilities here in the states.

Underground cables in the real world environment are subject to a variety of problems. E.g., when bare cables are used they are subject to corrosion, because of the highly acidic water that trickles down through soils. When cables are run through pipes, even mild settlement of earth can put kinks into them, causing stress points and eventual breakage.

It’s an economic tradeoff. It’s true that underground cables are less subject to problems than overhead cables. It’s equally true that installing them and fixing them are both vastly more expensive.

People in the U.S. like having cheap electric power. And it’s remarkably reliable. Even after disasters, power is restored within two weeks in all but the most exceptional and remote venues. The increased cost of underground installation - not to mention retrofitting every electric connection to every existing house - is currently unreasonably high.

Apparently you’ve never stepped foot inside Florida. Can we say sinkholes? Marshes? Swamps? Duhh.

When you see buried lines in suburbs that are neither obviously wealthy nor are subdivisions (where they could bury the lines privately), often it’s sweet, sweet government pork. At least here, anyway.

Often the underground lines expand with the road construction projects, as previously mentioned. The interesting thing is, a good friend of mine worked for years as a city surveyor, and I thought all that time they were surveying for new construction - no, mostly they survey to figure out where they put things in the old construction, partially so they can try not to dig through it. Your tax dollars at work. (Granted, I know that some of this can be very old construction, bought by the city, with no maps. That’s not all of it, though.)

In newer Florida homes, I believe the lines are routinely put underground. My house was built in about 1988 and everything in the neighborhood is underground. Older homes are not so lucky and there really is no incentive to put everything in the ground. Who’s gonna pay for it? Where’s the money going to come from? Homeowners who can’t afford a newer house? The state budget (snicker)?

And yes, the government in Florida is stupid.