Overhead Power Lines Dangerous To Life and Property

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petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
Outage duration is also something to consider. An hour and a half outage once a week would be 99% uptime, and not catastrophic -- pipes won't freeze, food won't spoil and people won't die. But an 88-hour outage once a year -- also 99% uptime -- will have much more-serious ramifications.

I don't think anybody's willing to settle for 99% uptime.
so what are you willing to "settle" for? that would seem to be a key part of the equation.

also how much are you willing to force your fellow citizens to pay to get what you want?

WAG. What you want ends up being a trillion dollars. it will probably be much more but over 30 years let's call it a trillion dollars.

there are about 130 million residences in the US with electricity. that's about $20 a month per residence over 30 years. so we know the off the cuff trillion dollar estimate is low because nothing done by any government entity costs that little. But you really think the politicians are going to to vote to raise everyone's electric rates by even $20 a month? you can't get them to vote to have rates that even pay to maintain what we have now, much less improve it.
 

K8MHZ

Senior Member
Location
Michigan. It's a beautiful peninsula, I've looked
Occupation
Electrician
so what are you willing to "settle" for? that would seem to be a key part of the equation.

also how much are you willing to force your fellow citizens to pay to get what you want?

WAG. What you want ends up being a trillion dollars. it will probably be much more but over 30 years let's call it a trillion dollars.

there are about 130 million residences in the US with electricity. that's about $20 a month per residence over 30 years. so we know the off the cuff trillion dollar estimate is low because nothing done by any government entity costs that little. But you really think the politicians are going to to vote to raise everyone's electric rates by even $20 a month? you can't get them to vote to have rates that even pay to maintain what we have now, much less improve it.
I never took it that drcampbell was in favor of underground distribution. I took it that he was pointing out that what we already have is above 99 percent reliability. It for sure is here on my side of the state, anyway.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
I never took it that drcampbell was in favor of underground distribution. I took it that he was pointing out that what we already have is above 99 percent reliability. It for sure is here on my side of the state, anyway.
most places it is pretty high except in rural areas. if you choose to live in a rural area you will probably always have to tolerate lesser reliability on all your utilities.

most places these days are requiring all underground utilities anyway and as the existing wiring approaches 30-40-50 years and needs replacing it often ends up being replaced UG.

my point was not that we should not strive to improve the reliability of electric service, but that before committing to some boondoggle that we should understand what it is we are getting and what it will cost.

personally, i do not think there is any amount of money that can prevent electric outages for rural users that last days when there are ice storms. there is just no practical way to bury lines in most rural areas. I also do not think there is any practical way to prevent longer term outages when there are floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes. I suppose one could pass a law banning ice storms, floods, blizzards, earthquakes, and hurricanes, so they would no longer be a problem.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
When I was growing up, we moved into a new subdivision about 1961. All overhead distribution. About 10 years later, they put in another subdivision behind us and had all underground distribution. I don't know that their uptime was any better than ours. If someone took out a pole, it was on a secondary road outside the limits of the subdivisions, so burying the lines didn't make any difference. Where we live now, all our outages are typically caused by a transformer popping or some issue in the substation. Only during Tropical Storm Sandy did a tree take out the feeder from PSEG to our municipal POCO distribution center.

I have to say, that in keeping with the question of technical feasibility, there is no reason the entire grid couldn't be underground. It does, as always, come back to a matter of cost. First cost to install, maintenance costs, cost to expand, cost to adapt to new technologies. For reliability, we have had maybe a total of 24 hours of outage over the last 5-10 years. That's an uptime of 99.95% to 99.97%. Considering the risks we personally face with regard to power, I'm not sure I'm willing to spend any additional money for higher reliability.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
a few years ago i interacted with comed over power issues for a club I belonged to. comed told me the lines were all underground in the area and were all 40+ years old. i was told they were not scheduled to be replaced until they were 75 years old because that's what was available financially. in the meantime, they were digging up buried lines that failed and repairing them. i watched them do it one afternoon. they had some kind of instruments that told them where to dig. they dug there and found the failed cable section and repaired it. took maybe an hour.

in a period of a few months we had three outages. eventually I was told by comed they brought in a line from another direction so two lines fed our transformer. no problems since.

I was also told that if there were more than 3 splices in a 100 foot section of UG cable they were supposed to replace that section, but he said they rarely did because they lost most of the records of where the UG splices were.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Outage duration is also something to consider. An hour and a half outage once a week would be 99% uptime, and not catastrophic -- pipes won't freeze, food won't spoil and people won't die. But an 88-hour outage once a year -- also 99% uptime -- will have much more-serious ramifications.

I don't think anybody's willing to settle for 99% uptime.
Problem is most the time there is no outage for a long time but when one does happen it maybe only 2-3 hours or even 10-12 hours depending on circumstances as to why it happened and with serious problems maybe a few days or even weeks.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
Problem is most the time there is no outage for a long time but when one does happen it maybe only 2-3 hours or even 10-12 hours depending on circumstances as to why it happened and with serious problems maybe a few days or even weeks.
I can remember not all that long ago when natural gas powered fuels cells were being touted as the solution both for power generation and improving power reliability since there would basically be a power station on every block.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
When I was growing up, we moved into a new subdivision about 1961. All overhead distribution. About 10 years later, they put in another subdivision behind us and had all underground distribution. I don't know that their uptime was any better than ours. If someone took out a pole, it was on a secondary road outside the limits of the subdivisions, so burying the lines didn't make any difference. Where we live now, all our outages are typically caused by a transformer popping or some issue in the substation. Only during Tropical Storm Sandy did a tree take out the feeder from PSEG to our municipal POCO distribution center.

I have to say, that in keeping with the question of technical feasibility, there is no reason the entire grid couldn't be underground. It does, as always, come back to a matter of cost. First cost to install, maintenance costs, cost to expand, cost to adapt to new technologies. For reliability, we have had maybe a total of 24 hours of outage over the last 5-10 years. That's an uptime of 99.95% to 99.97%. Considering the risks we personally face with regard to power, I'm not sure I'm willing to spend any additional money for higher reliability.
Thing is if you eliminate the overhead service drops, POCO crews won't be spending a lot of time after some weather related disaster working on individual customer drops and will mostly focus on the MV distribution and/or transmission systems. Which they do put a priority on those anyway, but once they resolve those problems they often have many service drops that need attention after such disasters and that maybe takes the most time to get to where every customer is back on. There is always those trees that should never been planted close to the drop and a branch ends up falling on it.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
When I was growing up, we moved into a new subdivision about 1961. All overhead distribution. About 10 years later, they put in another subdivision behind us and had all underground distribution. I don't know that their uptime was any better than ours. If someone took out a pole, it was on a secondary road outside the limits of the subdivisions, so burying the lines didn't make any difference. Where we live now, all our outages are typically caused by a transformer popping or some issue in the substation. Only during Tropical Storm Sandy did a tree take out the feeder from PSEG to our municipal POCO distribution center.

I have to say, that in keeping with the question of technical feasibility, there is no reason the entire grid couldn't be underground. It does, as always, come back to a matter of cost. First cost to install, maintenance costs, cost to expand, cost to adapt to new technologies. For reliability, we have had maybe a total of 24 hours of outage over the last 5-10 years. That's an uptime of 99.95% to 99.97%. Considering the risks we personally face with regard to power, I'm not sure I'm willing to spend any additional money for higher reliability.
There used to be a MV line on poles that went down the middle of the street I lived on. When they rebuilt the street they moved the lines into a PVC conduit under the new sidewalk. The difference in number of outages was very noticeable. I am not sure whether it was putting them UG or if the new transformers did the trick but the uptime is much better these days. Still get a few seconds or minutes here and there but have not had an hours long outage that I can recall since the change.

But, this was relatively cheap because they were already digging and it was fairly easy to just add the conduit. Probably cost less than poles since they didn't have to set any poles.

And a lot of the old stuff had been there for 30+ years and was probably overloaded as when they put it in there were only a few houses along the street.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
Thing is if you eliminate the overhead service drops, POCO crews won't be spending a lot of time after some weather related disaster working on individual customer drops and will mostly focus on the MV distribution and/or transmission systems. Which they do put a priority on those anyway, but once they resolve those problems they often have many service drops that need attention after such disasters and that maybe takes the most time to get to where every customer is back on. There is always those trees that should never been planted close to the drop and a branch ends up falling on it.
Well, wouldn't you know it, I open my big mouth and the universe decides to make me wish I hadn't. Last night we lost power about 1800 and it was restored at 0030 today. :rolleyes:
 

mbrooke

Batteries Included
Location
United States
Occupation
Technician
Well, wouldn't you know it, I open my big mouth and the universe decides to make me wish I hadn't. Last night we lost power about 1800 and it was restored at 0030 today. :rolleyes:

Told you so 😁 😛


Power outages are only getting more frequent according to data.

Did you get hit by those thunderstorms that went through the north?
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
Power outages are only getting more frequent.

Did you get hit by those thunderstorms that went through the north?
Yes, it was like being in a hurricane for 15-20 minutes. Thunderstorms continued for another hour or so after, and rain until sometime after 1100pm which is when I went to bed.

I don't know if power outages are getting more frequent, at least in this area. Everybody is a sample of N=1, so entirely unique perspectives. I can say that more neighbors are putting in generators.

I did have a car battery and inverter handy from the last go 'round for powering the CPAP. Died about 4 hours in; an object lesson in the self-discharging characteristics of lead acid batteries. Have the little solar panel charging it now.
 
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mbrooke

Batteries Included
Location
United States
Occupation
Technician
Yes, it was like being in a hurricane for 15-20 minutes. Thunderstorms continued for another hour or so after, and rain until sometime after 1100pm which is when I went to bed.

I don't know if power outages are getting more frequent, at least in this area. Everybody is a sample of N=1, so entirely unique perspectives. I can say that more neighbors are putting in generators.

I hear you, those storms were brutal yesterday.

Hate to be the messenger again...

But a second day of severe weather of being anticipated:

https://www.wfsb.com/weather/alerts/


Elsa will pass after this.

Me personally I hate (despise) living in fear, or watching food go bad. I made the mistake of stocking up on 4th of July meats (sale) despite knowing power outage probability peaks this time of year.
 

mbrooke

Batteries Included
Location
United States
Occupation
Technician
Here is one:



Yet, power outages in the United States have been on the rise for more than a decade. At this point, the United States “experiences more electric outages than any other developed nation,” according to a report from the non-profit Pew Charitable Trusts.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
Here is one:

you do realize this is a web site ad for some people selling some snake oil that will solve the problem.

the ad also says this

Outages cost an average of about $18 billion to $33 billion per year in the United States.

That is not very much in the grand scheme of things. If you spend a trillion dollars to bury lines, and this saves $20 billion a year, it would take 50 years to break even, meaning it never really breaks even.
 

mbrooke

Batteries Included
Location
United States
Occupation
Technician
you do realize this is a web site ad for some people selling some snake oil that will solve the problem.

the ad also says this



That is not very much in the grand scheme of things. If you spend a trillion dollars to bury lines, and this saves $20 billion a year, it would take 50 years to break even, meaning it never really breaks even.


As storms become more frequent and in size, the break even point lowers rapidly.
 
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