Local power companies say underground power lines aren’t practical

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 5:36 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 12 at 6:47 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Many people have gone without power over the summer because of the strong storms to hit the Spokane area.

Power companies explained that even with multiple storms, running power lines underground is not a practical option.

KREM 2 on Your Side asked Avista and Inland Power if underground power lines would help keep the power on for more people if a storm moves through and takes out electricity. Both companies said it is too expensive and it still may not keep the power on.

“Even with underground lines, you can still have power outages because over head lines that then serve underground service can go out and that is what we experienced in that most recent storm,” Debbie Simock with Avista.

Both power companies explained that even if your entire neighborhood has power lines underground, if the substation supporting your area is above ground, then you could still lose power if one overhead line gets hit by the storm.

Officials said the cost to go back and change lines is too expensive. Both companies also said the price difference is around one and a half times the cost to build a power line overhead. They said if there is an outage, it is harder to locate the line if it is underground and is more expensive to repair.

Avista and Inland Power said there are more challenges to underground lines. They said there may not be any space because of sewer lines in the way. Power companies also share lines with phone and cable companies. In those cases, all three companies would have to agree to move the lines underground.
 

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