Flood-Prone Gulf Coast Is a Tough Place to Bury Power Lines
(Bloomberg) -- Hurricane Ida took down more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) of Entergy Corp.’s transmission lines as it plowed through Louisiana and Mississippi, prompting some to wonder why utilities in the region haven’t buried the cables to make grids more resilient.
The question comes up regularly, said Rod West, Entergy’s group president for utility operations. The answer is that it’s both expensive and a poor fit for the Gulf Coast’s unique topography.
Burying power cables can increase costs more than sixfold, making it prohibitively expensive, West said in an interview. Underground lines are also harder to access if they need repairs. Parts of the region are at or below sea level, which means they’re more likely to flood -- something utilities try to avoid.
“We learned in grade school that electricity and water don’t mix,” West said. “New Orleans is below sea level. We bury our deceased aboveground for that reason.”
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