A very nice report: Town Of Haymarket Report – click to download (note it is big so give it minute – please also note that IE may have an issue but it works fine in Chrome – go figure) that shows what the Town Of Haymarket carefully considered before opposing the power line.  While some of it is specific to the town, many of the observations apply to any of the proposed power line routes.  One key point is they don’t accept the old “it cost too much to bury the line” … they claim it is old math.  The following tries to show that above ground can become expensive if the weather crushes the towers.  While the towers shown here are higher than Dominion currently plans for us they do demonstrate that cheaper has its expensive risks.



  1. Bob Munck

    If, as has been suggested, this is being done mostly for a single major commercial customer, then Dominion’s arguments about the relative expense of above- vs. under-ground are irrelevant. Amazon the CIA The customer will be paying that extra cost and there’s no reason that the general public or the threatened property owners should contribute involuntarily to The Company’s net profits. It also seems likely to me that any such commercial and/or government customer would welcome the extra reliability and security of an underground power supply.

    (I’m unable to access the report PDF mentioned in the above entry. Chrome, Firefox, and MSIE under Win 7 and 8 all get empty files.)

    1. admin

      Let me check on that link, thanks Modified it so it should work better. Note there is a funny think in some versions of IE about its PDF plugin – but works fine in chrome!

  2. Charlie R

    I looked into the ’10 times the cost’ myth of underground power lines and found that it looks to have been used as an excuse all over the country. However it is now regarded as excessively biased in some experts opinions. I’m not an expert (and some days my math is real bad) but below I have taken Dominion Power’s quoted categories and percentages from the Edison Institute reports and tried to paint a more understandable picture. (Understandable to me anyway !)

    SO imagine I’m a mechanic and you bring your car to Charlie R’s Garage
    Elsewhere an oil change will cost you an average $54

    My ‘Estimate’ for the same work is
    Materials –
    (Quoted at recommended cost not actual cost after deals from being a billion dollar corporation like Dominion) – $183.60
    Contractor Labor and Equip –
    (Contractor is needed because I ‘reduced’ a lot of my staff to appear more attractive to shareholders) -$156.60
    General and Admin Overhead –
    (Mainly for managing the above contractor) – $118.80
    Company Labor –
    (? I had to move a car out of the way so I could work on yours ?) -$43.20
    Other –
    (How anyone could include an ‘other’ category of nearly 10% when we are talking millions of dollars I am unsure ?) – $43.20
    TOTAL – $545.40 – Bargain hey ! and only 10 times the price 🙂

    Source Virginia State Corporation Commission, January 2005 “Placement of Utility Lines Underground” Dominion Virginia Power Underground Cost detail

    1. admin

      Thanks! Your comments have been helpful in our attempts to create our own comparison of the costs of the options and their various types of impacts.

  3. Charlie R

    Societal Cost of Overhead high voltage power lines
    Often overlooked and almost always omitted from the math is the factor of the societal cost comparison of overhead versus underground power lines.

    Estimates rarely cover the potential savings to the communities and industry with reduced power outages. Industry can suffer greatly from extended outages such as hospitals having to rely on expensive generator operations and restaurants with lost food stocks and business.

    Unpredictable weather events such as super storms can greatly increase the cost to beyond dollar amounts even to the point where lives are lost due to the lost communication of dangers and hazards. Many weather forecasters agree that the frequency and severity of storms in the future will be greater than those which have gone before, certainly far more frequent than seismic activity, which means ever increasing repair and replacement costs with overhead power lines.

    The news agency Reuters reported that Edison estimates response and restoration costs for Hurricane Sandy and the following Nor’easter were estimated at $350MIL to $450MIL. That did not include the costs associated with loss of business services and products.

    While to many of us outages may seem little more than a lost freezer of food and minor inconveniences of having to find that super camping stove you bought 3 years ago and buried in the garage. To some people it can present very real hazards to their health, like not having alternative heating if elderly, venturing out for supplies when no one should be on the roads or even a tragic accident using a generator.

    In a comprehensive analysis on the cost, Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published estimates that the annual cost of power interruptions to U.S. consumers is approximately $80BIL a year.

    Underground power conduits present greater physical security for the valuable power we depend on versus terrorism or sabotage attempts. That simple fact I think is a huge consideration for the datacenter considering the virtual environments that are made available for customers critical functions. Undergrounding also minimizes the risk to endangered and threatened Avian species and represents a worthy investment in our community.

    Overhead transmission line technology was first used in 1886, it is outdated and results in fatal accidents every year, either involving qualified service personnel or accidental collisions. In almost all cases involving the public and emergency responder’s the utility company claims statutory exemption from any liability or prosecution should anyone come within 10 feet of a power line, whether in the air or on the ground.

    Dominion Virginia Power state in their 2014 Outlook that they will “Begin a $175 Million per year undergrounding strategy for distribution system hardening that will help minimize the effects of severe weather on our customers”

    They KNOW its better they just want to push through a cheaper fix so they can maximize profits.

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