Burying Power Lines

Glenn Reynolds asked the question. Well, someone that Glenn read over at Slashdot asked the question first:

Why aren't power lines underground?

've thought about it many times, as has Glenn. After reading the numerous comments and replies to the Slashdot post, I realized that I had come to the same conclusion as many of those commenting.

In certain areas and certain applications it makes perfect sense to do that. In other areas and circumstances it makes no sense whatsoever.

For the most part, burying power and utility lines makes sense for a local neighborhood, the so-called “last mile”. This is particularly true of new construction, where the cost of burying the utilities will be a fraction of what it would cost after the fact. Retrofitting can be very costly and, unless circumstances demand, not very cost effective. In urban areas it is the de facto standard.

But burying the higher voltage feeder lines entail their own problems and costs. In this case it makes no sense to do so unless there are some overriding need that must be met.

Let's face it, nobody likes those ugly telephone poles and power lines, nor the high tension lines that stretch across the countryside. We all like to see neighborhoods and country lanes devoid of them. But they are a necessity.

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