Concerned about unsightly power lines along city streets, the Grove City council invited American Electric Power (AEP) to present the pros and cons of underground electric cables.
The city spent $1.3 million to add new steel poles to White Road, yet extra poles have begun to appear, said Councilman Richard "Ike" Stage.
Brent Gates, project design supervisor for AEP, said developers and landowners would have contacted the utilities directly to request the new poles. The additional poles may have been added because cables could not run along the steel poles to the ground, or the distance between the poles might have been too far for some weaker utility cables such as phone lines.
AEP is still working on a service center on White Road, therefore the mystery poles might also be temporary, Gates said. He told council that he would look into it.
The cost to replace overhead lines with underground lines would range from $1 million to $3 million per mile. New overhead lines cost around $150,000 per mile.
People prefer underground lines for aesthetic reasons, but they are not any more reliable or safer than overhead lines, Gates said.
Underground lines experience outages less frequently than overhead lines, but the duration of an underground outage is much longer. If a tree branch falls on an overhead line, the problem can easily be seen and a bucket truck dispatched. If a burrowing animal nibbles through an underground cable, the problem is more difficult to diagnose. In addition, specialty trained workers must excavate and repair the line, Gates explained.
Like overhead cables, underground lines may be damaged from lightning strikes, but it costs five to 10 times as much to restore power to the buried cables than those on poles.