Why wouldn’t a small city switch to underground power?


[context: I’m in a small city of 6k people. This stupid town is known for constant power outages due to high wind and snow. Are they stubborn or is it really that hard to switch this small town to underground power so we stop having power outages anytime someone even sneezes?]

In: 38

Underground high voltage cabling is easily 10-100x the cost per meter of overhead cabling.

If a 900km powerline costs $2.4 billion, the same distance of underground cabling would be will over $200 billion.

If your town is relatively wealthy and the city is willing to issue bonds and/or increase property taxes to cover it, it can be done most likely.

Underground power is expensive and can be rather inconvenient to install and maintain relative to overhead wiring.

In short: Cost. The cables themselves cost more, then it also costs more to set up (5x or so from the last estimate I saw) compared to above ground cables.

Then after all that extra expense, it’s both more expensive and time consuming to fix something if it goes wrong.

Most cities simply don’t have the budget to do that, or the personnel to do that, even if it might be cheaper in the long run.

Cost and time. It would cost a lot to bury everything, cost more in labor to dig it up to fix it(you would still have issues due to ground freezing/water/ice), take more time to dig it up vs getting a bucket in the air, and take more time I restore outages. Plus soil is an insulator (temperature wise) and so some of the equipment would still need to be above ground or have cooling systems designed and built for them (another big cost). All of that would cause your utility rates to skyrocket worse than they likely already have.

Cost, mainly. It’s not a big problem to just trench in extra utilities in a new subdivision when you’re already laying water sewage and gas, but if you have existing infrastructure to plan around, you need to break up the ground, finished concrete work, et cetera, for limited reliability gains and extra concerns about strikes, vehicular carnage (your transformers are now on a pad), and security.

Your town is better off keeping up with tree pruning prior to winter and upgrading the hydro and internet as required with new longer fibreglass crossbars n such. I live in semi-rural Southern Alberta and have had more reliable hydro out here than in town where it was underground in my neighbourhood.