This 2006 article states that even as long as 8 years ago placing high-voltage transmission lines underground was a cost-effective option.
From the article:
“On one hand, overhead lines are exposed to more things that cause them to fail, turn off or need to be periodically maintained: wind, ice, lightning, contamination, trees and so forth. Underground lines simply miss out on all the excitement to which overhead lines are exposed. On the other hand, when overhead lines need to be worked on, the process is usually straightforward. When underground transmission fails, the repair process usually takes longer and costs more. However, because of the lack of required routine maintenance, some evaluations present a case for underground transmission having a lower lifetime cost than the lower first-cost overhead option.”
“At the end of the day though, when utilities examine and rank the root causes of distribution system reliability indices (SAIDI, CAIFI and the like), transmission system outages are nowhere near the top 10 causes. This is true for utilities with robust bulk power-delivery networks. So, unless transmission-caused outages are a significant component of customer distribution reliability indices figures, the relevant impacts of the possible unreliability of elements in the transmission system is not a long discussion.”
“Internationally, [as of 2006] there are also more than 1000 miles (1600 km) of solid dielectric cables in operation at voltages in excess of 230 kV. As shown in the following table, roughly one-third are at voltages greater than 345 kV. None of the over 230-kV cable is in the United States.”
We still are saddled with an 1890s’ mentality regarding overhead transmission lines.
And most important, there is this:
“Today [as of 2006], there are long, involved public hearings where thousands of stakeholders are put on notice about the need for the proposed line and routing. It is not uncommon to have many institutional and private interveners in this process. Their motives cover the entire spectrum of possibilities, from thoughtful and critical with the objective of improving the entire process, to what has been reduced to the acronym NIMBY (not in my backyard). The seemingly unending nature of this licensing and/or permitting process has introduced an enormous uncertainty into the overhead line design-to-construction process.
This uncertainty of getting an overhead line approved is the major modern trend. The cost differential between overhead and underground has also lessened. This is made more complex by congestion charges for network bottlenecks caused by line permitting delays. All this uncertainty and the change in economic environment gives the underground option an appeal that was previously absent.”
Translation: A project with callously overlooked design and safety flaws, sold to the public with evasions and lies, should be stopped in its tracks by conscientious, determined citizens!
A possible rallying cry for all 18 segments: “PSE: None of the Above!”