That’s a great question. Your Co-op is constantly adding more underground power lines and retiring overhead lines. More than half of our distribution lines are underground, and that number is steadily increasing over time.
- That being said, it’s good to know that members requesting new lines are generally the ones to decide whether they are installed below or above ground. That decision is usually based on costs and aesthetics, with most new services being underground installation. There are other considerations, too.
- Replacing all overhead line with underground is not financially realistic. Short line extensions can cost 3 times as much as overhead, while long extensions can exceed 10 times the overhead cost. Replacing our entire system would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. As a member-owned cooperative, those costs would fall onto members through rates.
- Underground line is not feasible at all locations including wetlands, high water tables, river crossings, for existing structures, or where there are rocky soil conditions.
- Although underground installation may decrease the frequency of outages, it can increase the duration of outages if there is a cable fault. It takes much longer to restore power when lines must be excavated for repair.
- The Co-op constantly analyzes how capital system improvements (like overhead to underground conversions) would benefit the membership as a whole. Your Co-op is committed to maintaining the system in a manner that provides reliable service and affordable rates now and in the future.