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Will Locating Utilities Underground Keep the Power on During Hurricane Season?

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

Here at East Coast Underground & Construction Corp have extensive experience using ground penetrating radar to locate utilities underground. And that is where more and more South Florida homeowners are hoping to find their utilities!

Hurricane Irma struck South Florida in 2017 and left large swaths of the area without power for days and sometimes weeks. In the wake of the storm, public radio station WLRN asked if Underground Power Lines Are Really The Solution.

Burying utilities lines in the ground – a practice popularly referred to as “undergrounding” – was a hot topic at the time and continues to be considered as a way to protect vulnerable power lines.

But as WLRN reported, “A lot of people think of it as the solution for keeping the power on. But that’s not necessarily how it works.”

Will Burying Utilities Protect Against Power Outages?

“Many South Floridians consider underground power lines a panacea or a silver bullet-method for getting the lights to come on quickly after a hurricane,” WLRN noted.

If you have lived in South Florida for a while, you may remember the dark skies over South Florida in 2005. “After the 2005 double-hitter of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, FPL invested nearly $3 billion to harden its electrical grid, to try to make it more resilient against the storms of the future,” WLRN says.

In addition to undergrounding, FPL says it has stepped up its efforts to:

  • Keep trees located near electrical wires trimmed

  • Replace old, wooden power poles with sturdier concrete or steel ones (but if you can remember back to 2004, when Hurricane Frances hit Palm Beach County, you’ll know that even those big concrete poles can succumb to the powerful force of hurricane winds.

  • Reinforce utility poles with guy wires (tensioned cables) for more stability.

This year, FPL will be wrapping up a three-year pilot program that has been putting more power lines underground. But FPL’s experts insist that undergrounding is not going to solve all the problems that can contribute to those long power outages that are all too common after tropical storms and hurricanes sweep through the area. Hopefully, it will help!

If you need to locate utilities that have already been buried underground, we are experienced ground penetrating radar contractors.

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