|Sue Hollcroft of Dominion explains the process for burying power lines. [Photo by Mary Ellen Dawley]|
About 10 residents of the Columbia Pines neighborhood in Annandale attended a presentation by Dominion Virginia Power March 18 on the company’s plans to replace overhead power lines with underground lines on Brenda Lane, Bruce Lane, and a section of Terrace Drive between Murray Lane and Larchmont Drive.
Sue Hollcroft, a communications coordinator with Dominion, talked about the improved electric service reliability that will result from the company’s Strategic Underground Program. A state law encouraging the improvement of power reliability is driving the effort to bury power lines.
Fifty percent of all long power outages are caused by damage to 20 percent of the power lines, Hollcroft told the audience at Mason Crest Elementary School. These 20 percent include the distribution lines along neighborhood streets. Those so-called tap lines carry 19,000 volts and are the most vulnerable to damage from trees and storms. The company plans to remove those overhead wires and replace them with underground lines.
The work by Dominion is at no cost to homeowners, although electric rates will be adjusted to spread the cost among customers across the commonwealth.
All work that damages yards and plantings will be restored by Dominion Virginia. In some cases where there are obstacles to buried power lines, such as patios and garages, homeowners might have to pay for some of the work.
The objective of this project is to improve power reliability and does not include other utilities, such as telephone, Internet, and cable TV. Dominion Virginia Power is talking with Verizon and Cox about burying all lines at the same time, but there is no assurance that will happen.
Dominion Virginia Power will require homeowners to sign underground easements in order for the work to proceed. All homeowners on a street must agree; if one homeowner doesn’t sign an easement agreement, that street will not have its power lines buried.