2 minutes reading time (423 words)

Why Are Power Lines Overhead and Not Underground?

Most people have probably stopped noticing overhead power lines a long time ago; they just feel part of the landscape now. But have you ever wondered why our power lines are up there in the first place? Sure, they're out of the way, but the same would be true if we put them in underground conduits, so why do we still send them skywards?

eletrical lines and pylon trusses at sunrise

Primarily, It's Because of Cost

In the days before everyone had electricity flowing into their homes, telegraph lines were put on vertical posts. As telegraphs became more common, this infrastructure was already in place, so adding telephone lines, and then power lines, was simply building on the setup we already had.

However, just because we've been putting our power lines in the air all this time, that doesn't mean that's the best way to do it. Overhead power lines are subject to inclement weather, they can be knocked down by vehicular accidents, and perhaps worst of all, they're exposed to animals and critters to run across and damage with their little claws. Everything from squirrels, to birds, to larger creatures like raccoons can crawl, climb, or fly up to these lines, which presents a serious hazard to wildlife as well as to the power lines.

There are some advantages to overhead lines, though. They are less expensive to install than buried lines, for example, and they are easy to access. They're also significantly less expensive to install than underground lines, since the infrastructure is already in place for them. Finally, it tends to be easier to find where lines are down/disrupted in overhead setups, a task which is more difficult when the lines are buried and out of sight.

It's All About Where You Are

Whether power lines are more beneficial in the ground or in the air depends largely on the sort of resources in one's area and the kinds of unique threats power lines face. Areas prone to storms, for example, tend to benefit greatly from undergrounding. Places that are wide open, and which have little risk of weather or animal-related threats don't really need the extra expense and time of digging a whole new underground network system for power lines.

If you have overhead lines, you'll want to keep them as safe as possible, else face costly repairs or disruptions. Consider using Critter Guard systems for one less worry. For more about our Line Guard and Pole Guard systems and how they work in protecting your utilities from unwanted squirrels and creatures, simply contact us today!

Wildlife Interaction with Electric Utility Compone...
What is Undergrounding?
 
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