Wisdom of Overhead Power Lines

I agree. My concern was more with the local lines than high voltage. At least where I grew up in Tennessee, the high voltage lines were on special towers at a higher elevation with the undergrowth cleared to prevent problems from snapping tree limbs.

Some earlier threads:

My answer from that first thread still applies. In the U.S. the cost would be in the trillions. Not billions: trillions.

So who pays for that? Legally, the customers of the company putting in the lines. Chance that any state Public Utility Commission would approve this? Zero.

Emergency costs, even in the billions, are a meaninglessly small fraction of this cost. And they are often allocated differently, i.e. they come out of a utility’s set-aside money for such emergencies, out of the shareholders profits, or out of state emergency funds. In none of these ways do ordinary customers wind up paying for the costs.

Politically, and in every other way, the cost of retrofitting the country does not fly. Even the costs of retrofitting hurricane states like Florida and Louisiana are much higher than the occasional emergency cost.

Polycarp, the Quackwatch article, Power Lines and Cancer: Nothing to Fear.

Thanks for the links. I should have figured this topic had been discussed in relation to hurricanes in the past.

I’d rather trim limbs than to dig up roots. :stuck_out_tongue: :dubious:

[semijack]I don’t worry too much about the induction from high voltage AC lines because I don’t live near any. If I did I might.

The 1 million volt (±500000) volt DC line of the Pacific Intertie runs down the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Range near here. I used to fish a lot at a campground on the Owens River through which the power line runs. There was a lot of sag in the lines in summer and they were only about 20-25’ above the ground. I always was a little leery of walking under them and I never, ever pointed my finger at them. Silly? Maybe but it didn’t cost me anything and why be half safe?[/semijack]

I’ve seen some pretty bad trimming jobs - trees never recovered and would have been better off being dug up.

Try to watch an helicopter going down a right of way with a large rotation blade hanging down beneath it… Now those are messy… Even worse that brush hogs on a pole…

But wouldn’t they have to know where it is to start. I just hot them come out and mark my property so I could put up a fence. I wasn’t hear when they did it, but I’d imagine they just used a map (and some common sence…hey there’s a meter over there, I don’t care what the map says, SOMETHING must go that way). Even if they had something to detect live lines underground, would they really go over every square inch of property, or just use it to help trace the lines on the map.

Anecdote. Years ago there was two bouts of construction in front of my dads business. During th first one he got a pretty good look at what runs under the street. A few years later when they came to tear up the road, my dad noticed that they were about to start digging in a place where he KNEW there was a utility line. He went out there to mention it to them and they pretty much told him to mind his own business. The lines weren’t on the map, Diggers Hotline didn’t mark them on the road, ergo they arn’t there. (Even with my dad saying that he actually saw them with his own eyes). They dug anyways and wound up knocking the power out for a few days because of it.

Note: Bubbadog has 28 years experience with electrical utilities -

But who gets this economic advantage?
[li]Lives lost due to downed lines doesn’t cost the power company.[/li][/QUOTE]
Our lawyers would disagree with this statement. Picture this - line falls on the ground, local citizen walks up to it and attempts to pick it up, and dies.
Court case with jury - poor grieving widow vs mean old power company. The power co lawyers usually settle these out of court by paying.

[li]Lives lost due to car-utility pole accidents doesn’t cost the power company. (And generally, the car owners insurance is responsible for replacing the pole & transformer.)[/li][/Quote]
Lawyers tell me that, this too, is untrue. Many times, in search for deep pockets, the electric company is sued for having the pole too close to the road, failing to paint it bright orange, flagrantly not hanging a lit blicking sign that says"do not run into this pole with your car", etc. Even if its frivolous the electric company has to staff and pay legal fees to defend the company.

Every outage has a significant cost to the power company. The utilities are mandated to record frequency and severity of outages. If these stats show any indication of lax effort on the utilities part the state regulators gleefully use this as ammunition to deny rate increases for the utility.
The utilities must pay response personel (call centers, dispatchers, on-call labor) to handle these outages.
You are correct that customer losses due to outages is usually not reimbursed by the power company. Years ago, during cleanup of a significant windstorm, I was yelled at by a guy who told me his freezer food was thawing. He had been out of power for 4 hours. I asked him how he knew it was thawing and he said that he checked it every half hour since the outage. :smack: Most freezers will maintaing frozen foods for at least 20-40 hours if you don’t open the freakin door every 20 minutes to let the cool air out In this case we had all cutomers back on in 18 hours.


[li]Costs of trimming tree limbs is paid by the power company. But it’s pretty minor, comparitively. And some have even tried to bill this to the homeowner, if the trees are on his property rather than public property. [/li][/QUOTE]
Utility budgets for trimming trees is easily in the millions of dollars each year. You are correct that this cost is less than the cost of burying existing power lines.

[li]Aesthetic value is completely meaningless to the power company bottom line. [/li][/QUOTE]
In our service territory all new residential power is provided underground. Main distribution arteries that supply this are still overhead. You may be able to see this when you see poles along main streets which then feed underground into neighborhoods. It is significantly more expensive to dig the ditches and buy the expensive underground cable than it is to erect poles and feed bare conductor on to those poles. The utility understands the desire for aesthetics but it must also show prudence in its costs. This is not just a utility decision. Every dime a utility spends must be justified to state and federal regulators.

An economic decision that realizes that the rates necessary to support a 100% underground system would bankrupt our customers. So this is correct. Most utilities carefully select where they put underground systems.