This guide is intended to assist those considering privately initiated undergrounding to help evaluate the viability of their project and to provide some helpful tips and guidance to streamline the process and make it more efficient.
What is a distribution system?
The distribution system is a grid of infrastructure that delivers power (electricity) and service to the community. This typically consists of poles and wires for an overhead system, and underground wires, and above-ground equipment (transformers and pedestals) for an underground system.
It is helpful to understand that many of the poles in the Boulder community house infrastructure of multiple utilities including Xcel Energy and telecommunication such as, CenturyLink, Comcast, etc. Removing poles requires the undergrounding of each of the utilities that currently use the poles. Burying all electric and telecommunication utilities requires extensive planning and coordination. Typically, there is a separate cost associated with undergrounding each utility.
Overview and Considerations
Planning the overhead to underground conversion of dry utilities requires many companies and neighbors to come together and align on scope and cost. A typical conversion will require the undergrounding of the distribution system as well as the individual service to each home.
It is important to determine the goals and extent of a project early on so that this can be articulated to all utility companies. Some may find it helpful to hire a qualified electrical contractor who is familiar with undergrounding power and communication lines, as well as the service needs of each property.
Because undergrounding impacts all properties that are served by and/or that abut the services to be undergrounded, it is best to start by determining individual interest and financial ability of a group of neighbors to participate. This should be assessed prior to engaging the utilities to minimize modification of designs, increasing the efficiency and timeliness of the effort.