Keeping the Lights On
3:13 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

WPS Plans Underground Powerline Installation

Public utility regulators have approved a $220 million project to bury certain power lines.  

WPS is hoping to improve electricity reliability by getting power lines out of the way of trees.
WPS is hoping to improve electricity reliability by getting power lines out of the way of trees.
Credit James Lee

Wisconsin Public Service plans to convert more than a thousand miles of overhead power lines to underground ones.  Todd Steffen from WPS says the project should create more reliable electric service for Northwoods customers.



“We figured out doing a pilot study that if we in some cases buried those power lines, and put them underground instead of having them mixed in and interfering with trees, we started seeing reliability and service levels really started rising substantially.”


Steffen says the move comes in response to customer complaints of increased outages, especially in bad weather.       



“What happened up there is we noticed that certain areas, particularly in the heavily forested areas in Northern Wisconsin, we’ve been having more outages and electric reliability issues.  Usually because of storms and high winds, and then the power would go off, and the customers were telling us that they’ve had those numbers of outages.”


WPS says the 5-year project could result in a less than five dollar a month rate increase for the average residential customer.  The utility will contact residents along the construction route when work is set to begin in the area.