Fayette County

Burying power lines revisited

The city will soon begin exploring the idea of requiring underground utilities in all new neighborhoods.

Urban County Councilwoman Cheryl Feigel suggested the idea Tuesday after a discussion about how lessons from the 2003 ice storm were used in responding to January's storm.

During January's storm, ice-laden trees crashed through power lines, knocking out electricity to more than 700,000 Kentucky homes and businesses.

Underground power lines aren't as susceptible to power outages caused by trees and lightning, but they do have drawbacks, such as longer repair times, an Urban County Council committee was told.

In areas with underground lines, it takes longer to find the problem, dig it up and then fix it, said David Freibert, a Kentucky Utilities spokesman.

There was interest in burying lines in Lexington after the 2003 storm. An Urban County Council committee discussed the issue, but nothing came of it.

Currently, developers choose whether power lines are buried.

About 65 percent of Kentucky Utilities' new customers are coming online with underground lines, Freibert said. In Lexington, about 80 percent of new customers have buried lines, he said.

Overall, about 80 percent of KU's customers have overhead lines, Freibert said.