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Trees and wires

I saw some beautiful evergreens on a walk, and also noticed the unsightly electrical cabling in front of them. The site made me think of under grounding. Placing the cables underground would be much more aesthetic. There are other advantages including being less subject to damage from lightning, wind, or freezing rain. The primary disadvantage of undergrounding is the higher investment required. According to the  Edison Electric Institute, above ground cables cost around $10 per foot and underground cables cost $20 to $40 per foot. The cost of repair for underground cables is much higher but the likelihood of needing such repair is small. Many U.S. towns have roads lined with very old and fragile trees. Power outages from downed overhead wires have often left thousands of homes without power for up to two weeks. 

Progress toward undergrounding is mixed. All low and medium voltage electrical power in the Netherlands is supplied underground. Germany and the UK underground a portion of their cables every year. In the U.S., more than three million miles of electrical cables are strung across the country. The electrical cables coexist with 180 million telephone and cable television lines. Scenic America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the visual character of America’s communities and countryside, advocates for undergrounding. They say, “The aesthetics of our communities and landscapes are often overwhelmed by unsightly utility wires and accessories.” New subdivisions are being built with all utilities underground but thousands of cities and towns remain vulnerable with utility poles.

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