“FPL seeks pilot program to test underground powerlines”

“FPL seeks pilot program to test underground powerlines”

Photo: Sun Sentinel
“Florida Power & Light Co. is planning a pilot program to put utility lines underground in not-yet-identified neighborhoods in the state…

FPL said September’s Hurricane Irma showed that underground main powerlines are more resilient in general, and during storms because they can’t be downed by trees and overgrown vegetation — the prime reason that 90 percent of FPL’s customers experienced an outage.

During Irma, 69 percent of hardened, overhead main powerlines and 82 percent of non-hardened main powerlines experienced outages, while only 19 percent of underground main lines lost power, FPL said in response to Sun Sentinel questions.

FPL said it plans to seek the Florida Public Service Commission’s approval for the pilot in locations somewhere in its 35-county service territory, ‘to determine which powerlines would benefit the most from undergrounding to enhance overall reliability,’ FPL spokesman Bill Orlove said…”

— Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel

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Counter argument: “Would millions in Irma’s path still have power if the lines were underground?”

Counter argument: “Would millions in Irma’s path still have power if the lines were underground?”

Photo: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald

Severe flooding and storm surge can also put the grid out of commision after storms, according to NPR.

‘You’re simply trading off one type of risk for another,’ Ted Kury, an energy expert at the University of Florida, told NPR. ‘Yes, you’ve mitigated the risk of losing power because of a failure in the pole or a tree getting blown into the lines. But you’ve traded that risk off for outages due to storm surge or to flooding.’

Across the country, only about 20 percent of U.S. power lines are underground, the Energy Information Agency reports.

Compare that with Germany, where nearly all low and medium voltage lines are buried safely underground, providing electricity to homes and apartments across the country, according to CNN. That’s led to fewer outages in Germany, CNN reports — but then again, the northern European county doesn’t deal with hurricanes..

–Jared Gilmour, Mcclatchy via Miami Herald

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Additional counter arguments in the Palm Beach Post