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Comparison of Impacts of Overhead vs.

Underground Transmission Line Construction


As stated in the Consultants report, An overhead line can generally span and not disturb sensitive features such as cultural resources sites, streams, most wetlands, isolated steep slopes, a sensitive species location, etc. Undergrounding however, requires construction of a trench and results in a disturbed area of approximately 40 in width for the entire length of the line. Even with direct boring construction, there is an area of disturbance of approximately 40-50W X 100-150L due to the installation of a vault and room for cable pulling and conduit installation equipment every 2000. Reliability Transmission lines have very high reliability because of their physical design and the fact that most transmission lines are in a loop configuration that provides a back-up source if one of the transmission lines experiences an outage. The Citys transmission system has experienced only 2 significant outages in the last 17 years. One of these incidents was related to Hurricane Kate and the other was caused by a tree in the late 1990s. The outage that occurred in the late 1990s resulted in power restoration to the transmission grid within thirty minutes. If an outage occurs on an underground transmission line to this substation, the line could be out for weeks. Since this will be the only feed to the substation for some time, this will mean that a portion of the Citys customers may be without power for this same period of time. Trees Another point that is commonly mentioned with respect to underground electric facilities is that trees no longer have to be trimmed or cut in order to maintain an appropriate, safe clearance for an overhead line. Therefore, not only is the annual expense of tree trimming saved, but also the aesthetic value of the tree is saved. There are avoided tree trimming maintenance costs associated with underground installations. However, while trimming trees for overhead lines may create an impact on the crown of a tree, underground lines may affect the root structure of a tree. Since the majority of roots are within the top four feet of the soil, significant damage can occur to any tree with open-trench construction. At least a portion of the tree can be killed, depending upon circumstances. In order to minimize the impact to a tree, trenchless construction (boring) can be done on this project. Boring a hole through the root of a tree does reduce, but not eliminate, the impact on the tree; however, this is at an additional expense for this project of 1.63 times the cost of the open trench construction. Maintenance Cost Benefits In many cases there is an expectation that the economic benefits associated with underground electric installations are significant enough to offset the additional cost of those facilities. Unfortunately, the economic benefits associated with underground electric facilities are, in most cases, minimal compared to the difference in the cost of installation. The most quantifiable savings associated with the installation of underground transmission facilities compared to overhead transmission facilities is the reduction of exposure to the trees that must be trimmed on a regular cycle. For every mile of line the City installs underground, the reduced overhead electric transmission facility exposure reduces the Citys tree trimming cost by approximately $7,300 annually. For every million-dollar increase per mile in construction costs to support underground construction, the City would incur approximately an additional debt service cost of $65,000 per year for 30 years. In addition, when underground facilities require maintenance, their costs are significantly higher than that of overhead facilities.

Minimum Corridor Widths Underground Construction (Open Trench) Underground Construction (Direct Bore)

40 (25 permanent, 15 temporary) 10 Wide (no above ground disturbance). However, every 2000 along the route, there is an area of disturbance of approximately 4050W x 100-150L due to the installation of a vault and room for cable pulling and conduit installation equipment. Regardless of the underground construction method used, the Vaults that would be needed for this project are 10 W x 24 L. Overhead Construction (Mahan Drive) Overhead Construction (on Welaunee Property) 22 Wide 100 Wide

Cost of the Routes under Consideration (All routes assume connection of both Substations 14 and 17 to the transmission grid; relative order of magnitude rounded to nearest million)