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Powerline Press NEWSLETTER October 2013


A Supplement of Oklahoma Living Published by Lake Region Electric Cooperative for its members. Vol. 4


No. 10


Underground vs. Overhead: Pros and Cons for Both Overhead Power Lines


Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month


Keep wintery drafts out of your home by sealing cracks and gaps. Weather stripping around doors and windows works well when you can see daylight between the frame and the wall or floor. Use caulk to seal around the frames where you see gaps.


Source: TogetherWeSave.com


and 2,951 miles of overhead lines. LREC is a not-for-profit business, selecting distribution methods with two goals in mind: keeping electricity affordable and reliable for con- sumers.


Underground Transformer High winds and stormy conditions can cause


tree limbs to fall on power lines, triggering out- ages. Although Lake Region Electric Coop- erative (LREC) linemen are on call around the clock and respond quickly to problems, some members ask the simple question: why keep power lines above ground? There are two ways electricity can be delivered to your home: through overhead or underground power lines. Although underground lines may seem attractive during storms since the lines are not exposed to extreme weather, the technology doesn’t always make sense for electric coopera- tives focused on affordability. Most underground lines are found in subdivi- sions where developers request and pay for the op- tion for aesthetic reasons. A high concentration of homes in these areas helps spread out the expense. The majority of the nation’s cooperative energy (including that provided to subdivisions) contin- ues to be delivered via overhead lines. As of 2012 year end, LREC has 88 miles of underground lines


LREC Powerline Press


There are pros and cons to both methods of power distribution. For instance, under- ground facilities are more reliable during storms and generally require less right-of- way maintenance because there are no trees, brush, and other vegetation to clear away. However, faults in under- ground power lines are not easy to track down and repair. LREC has compared the increased cost of underground lines against their benefits. The results; under- ground savings did not outweigh the heavy initial cost of installation.


“If a tree falls on a line, you can normally


drive down the line, see the problem, and get to work restoring power,” explains Martin Walls, LREC Director of Operations. “The same holds for repairing broken insulators and cross arms – if you see it, you can fix it. Underground lines are tough to troubleshoot. You can’t find a problem with your eyes – you have to search harder for it, tracking it down based on where the power flow stops. Then a line crew has to dig a hole to reach the spot before repairs can be made. It takes longer to find the problem and also longer to repair. It is also more expensive to tap ex- isting underground lines to extend power to new homes and businesses.” For most electric cooperative members,


affordable overhead lines will remain the norm.


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