Why do some areas have underground utilities and others have them overhead?

May 30, 2022

Why do some neighborhoods have underground utilities? How does that come about? What are the pros/cons of having the utility poles underground vs. above-ground?

Wildfire season will soon descend upon California, which emerged last year from one of the deadliest, and costliest, blazes in the state’s history. 


The high price has served as a deterrent. An estimate from Edison Electric Institute back in 2004 placed the cost of setting up underground utilities at $1 million a mile, 10 times the cost of an overhead power line. That gap is starting to narrow, according to Clint Andrews, a professor of urban planning at Rutgers University. 

Figures from PG&E published more recently suggest that burying overhead electric lines underground would cost about $3 million a mile, while building overhead lines would take $800,000 a mile. 

Utility customers foot the cost, so it becomes part of everyone’s electricity bills, Andrews explained. 

Marketplace, May 27, 2022

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