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Lexington Council committee gets briefing on underground utility positioning

Lexington City Council Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee 05-23-23
Stu Johnson
Lexington City Council Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee 05-23-23

The March straight-line windstorm that knocked out electricity for many Lexington residents for multiple days has some city leaders wondering about modifying electrical line service.

The Kentucky Utilities presentation before the City Council’s Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee focused on burying electrical lines. K-U Operations Manager Chris Mayes told members the cost of transitioning from poles to underground would be very expensive. Plus Mayes said there can be more deterioration underground.

“Failure rates on underground are a little higher just because you tend to have more moisture intrusion in the cables and they decay over time and like I said before they don’t last typically as long because of that moisture that gets in the cable,” said Mayes.

Mayes said there is a process for neighborhood associations, if interested, to pick up the cost of re-positioning utility lines. The KU representative said many new developments feature underground lines.

Mayes said such a transition is an expensive endeavor once lines are strung on poles.

“If you had an ordinance in place 40 years ago, the city would look a lot different, right? If people had the foresight to see what you wanted it to look like, you could probably control that years ago. Now that it’s out there, it’s much more difficult to do something with it,” said Mayes.

Council Member Jennifer Reynolds suggested consideration be given to requiring underground utilities for all future developments.

KU-L-G and E is a financial supporter of Weku.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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