By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s Severe Weather Awareness Week and every year we see neighborhoods lose power because of storms.

Often fallen trees or strong winds take out power lines, and it can take hours and sometimes days to repair them.

So why aren’t more power lines buried underground? Good Question.

“We can get a truck down here. We can do what we need to do. Overhead is much quicker to repair than underground,” said Joel Limoges. He’s a manager of electric area engineering for Xcel Energy.

Limoges said when power lines were installed decades ago in neighborhoods, underground technology wasn’t invented yet.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

To move them underground now would cost a lot of money and mean a lot of torn up roads and alleyways.

And Limoges says moving the 800 pound transformers to the ground may get them away from trees and wind, but space would become an issue. He said alleyways would no longer exist.

“If you take all those facilities that are up in the air and put them down on the ground, there’s just not much of a place for it to be,” said Limoges.

Limoges said when a lot of suburbs were building they had the luxury of planning ahead and installing underground power cables with padmount transformers on the ground. That made it easier for workers to get inside.

“The suburbs have been platted differently. You don’t have alleyways. You typically have more set back from the street,” said Limoges.

Limoges says there is obviously more digging involved with underground power lines.

And he said because of the way underground lines are insulated, they don’t last as long as power lines above ground.

He said their life expectancy is about 20 years shorter than above ground power lines.

John Lauritsen

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