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Worker in a hard hat, safety vest and glasses inspecting an underground power line.

Moving power lines underground improves safety and reliability

Going outside is good for us. Exposure to nature and the great outdoors revitalizes us and is even a recommended self-care strategy. With electrical infrastructure, an alternate strategy is preferred and keeps you out of harm’s way. 

As the planet heats up, data shows weather patterns are changing, and severe storms are more and more frequent. Severe weather can knock down power lines and damage other above-ground equipment. Strong winds, lightning and felled trees are some of the most common causes of damage and outages.  

According to Climate Central, 83% of major U.S. power outages between 2000 and 2021 were due to weather. The Midwest, along with the Southeast and Northeast, experienced the greatest number. 

Power outages increase the risk of electrocution for utility workers and customers. When an overhead wire comes loose, it may land in your yard or your business’s parking lot. If that happens, never touch or try to move it! Always consider downed wires live and highly dangerous. Keep well away and call your energy company immediately. 

Burying lines underground, called undergrounding, is one way to limit the impact of these risks. Underground wires are less exposed to the forces of nature, so there’s typically minimal damage from severe weather.  

The result: A more reliable and resilient service. We use the term reliability in relation to the number and frequency of outages, resilience in reference to how the entire power system withstands and rebounds from disruptions. Undergrounding makes the whole grid more resistant to outages and helps keep their numbers low. 

At Alliant Energy, safety is our first concern, for our workers, customers, families and neighbors. You can get additional information about being around electric equipment on our electric safety page. 
Grant Barton is a Communications Partner with a passion for sustainability and eco-friendly city planning. He has a diverse background in engineering, politics and international communications and hopes to apply this experience when writing and breaking down complex topics related to Alliant Energy's Clean Energy Future plans.

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