Austin City Council is considering underground power lines

Councilor Vanessa Fuentes’ resolution calls for the construction of underground power lines as all infrastructure projects move forward.

AUSTIN, Texas – Austin city officials will consider burying some power lines after an ice storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers in February.

February’s ice storm dropped weakened branches on power lines across the city. It took more than a week for power to be restored for some residents. Many first responders were also left in the dark, forcing them to work with limited capacities.

Austin city Councilor Vanessa Fuentes (District 2) is the sponsor of a resolution calling for the city to build underground power lines, pushing all infrastructure forward.

Accordingly Fuentes Twitter“Item (58) would evaluate dig lines for ongoing city-funded projects. If there’s construction involving our utilities in the city’s right-of-way…like city roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, and other public infrastructure, we want.” take this as an opportunity to bury our lines and protect our neighbors.”

councilors Ryan age (District 5), Jose “Chito” Vela (District 4) and Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis (District 8) are co-sponsors of the resolution.

After the storm, officials expressed interest in burying more of Austin’s power lines. Austin energy said in February that most of the power outages during the storm were due to complications with overhead power lines and ice weighing on trees, causing them to fall and become tangled in power lines.

dr Michael Webber, Professor at the University of Texas at Austin‘S Cockrell School of Engineering And Webber Energy Groupsaid buried power lines are better protected from the elements that have lost power to the city in past storms: wind, thunderstorms and ice accumulation.

“Underground construction would take some time because you’d have to dig some trenches or tunnels and run some lines and get the permits and setbacks and right-of-way and everything,” Webber said. “It would be a difficult process, but if we want energy decades from now, I honestly think it’s worth taking the time.”

Webber said the upfront costs would likely be high, but would pay off in the long run. Webber explained that several miles of underground power lines would cost “millions” of dollars.

“These subway lines fail less often and are cheaper to maintain and last longer,” Webber said.

In a briefing to City Council after the ice storm Jackie Sargent, General Manager of Austin Energy said buried power lines may not be feasible.

“Many have asked why our entire distribution system is not underground, only part of it. We have always responded that changing our distribution lines would be prohibitively expensive and very disruptive,” Sargent said. “As an energy supplier, we know this intuitively, but the community may not. And we don’t have a feasibility study that illustrates the magnitude of what that would require.”

Sargent went on to say that she plans to apply for funding for a study on buried power lines.

The Austin City Council is meeting Thursday, March 23 to consider the resolutions proposed by the council members — including this resolution.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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