Q&A – King Tide, Sea Level Rise And Underground Power Lines

Today’s entry - Interesting that FPL is burying South Florida power lines while at the same time unhinged climate change believers are screaming that South Florida will be underwater by the time they complete the project in 10 years.

Bottom Line: You bring up a viable point. How is the under-grounding of power lines going to survive the threat of flooding, sea-level rise and what about Florida’s islands? Providing that the doomsayers, who are 0-27 in their climate predictions aren’t right about the end of South Florida in ten or twelve years, we have an idea about how this is going to work. 

The most recent update from FPL shows approximately 40% of their power lines being under-grounded. They hadn’t been waiting around for the state to mandate the process. For most of the underground power networks, a waterproof/tight PVC pipe is used to run the lines. That mitigates the concerns about king tides, floods, and any other water concern. The unless is the pipe breaking. According to industry estimates if the PVC pipe is compromised and water enters the lines, the damage is often more extensive than repairing above-ground lines. According to estimates power outages in extreme circumstances would go from “days” to restore most power outages to “weeks”. That’s the definition of progress until it isn’t. There’s a new technology FPL is experimenting with that could be the solution. 

Recent under-grounding tests for FPL have been using new “sub-aqueous” power lines. These lines are theoretically capable of direct exposure to water. What isn’t known is the lifespan and if there is failure how systemic it may be. This will be a key cog to watch as FPL and other utilities submit their plans for 100% under-grounding to the state. This technology is the potential technology that could be used for Florida’s islands. If everything else checks out, the final devil in the details is cost. The average estimated cost of under-grounding with “sub-aqueous” lines is $2.25 million per mile. 

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Photo by: Joe Raedle/Getty Images



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