Date: Sat, 7 Mar 2009 18:45:49 -0800 (PST)
>Subject: Re: To Bury or Not to Bury [Telecom]
>As to burying power lines, obviously individual lines to houses and
>lines to a block of houses can be buried. But is there a limit to the
>amount of voltage on a line that can economically be placed
>underground? I thought at one point higher voltages don't work so >well underground.
>I'll note that while in the city phone lines are buried, in the
>suburbs they're on poles.
Several of the major transmission lines feeding the City of Boston have been placed underground in the last few years:
"As part of its commitment to serve customers well, NSTAR has commenced construction of three new, underground 345-kilovolt (345-kV) transmission lines. The purpose of the new lines is to reinforce the Greater Boston Area, including surrounding communities, with additional electric power to meet both near term and longer term customer needs for reliable electric service."
And there is a "PowerPoint" presentation which explains the economics and why the utility decided to construct a new 18-mile underground 345-kv transmission line rather than augment existing lines or construct a new overhead line:
So who is supposed to be the additional costs of burying the HV power lines? The local or state tax payers?
Most of these power transmission companies go in front of a provincial or state board and say how their expenses go up and now they need more money. Including the fixed profit percentage. They have no incentive to reduce costs and become more efficient.
OTOH it could be argued that cutting costs and becoming more efficient in the rail industry, to use one example, is reducing preventative maintenance causing more train derailments and deaths.
So I don't know where the middle ground lies on this topic.
On Fri, 13 Mar 2009 16:47:59 -0400, Tony Toews [MVP] wrote: ......
The same place in all Essential service areas - Telecom, power, transport, water, health services etc - particularly where there is a "Natural monopoly" and no realistic alternative:
There must be clear and enforced Standards of Performance - like 99.9% (or whatever) overall availability of the service in normal conditions, as well as enforceable conditions for other various contingencies.
All of these must be enforced by significant financial penalties so these companies have a clear and substantial incentive to do maintenance and continually improve their operations.
The trouble is (and probably always has been) getting the people who set the conditions to set the appropriate ones, and then actually enforce them.
By reducing costs and improving efficiency--without sacrificing service--a utility will attract more customers and more usage and do more business as a result. [Sorry to sound like a broken record, but] the old Bell System did just that. They did not have to build microwave or coaxial cables after WW II that allowed them to significantly lower the price of long distance service--by the above way of thinking--they would not have done so.
In the U.S., some areas have deregulation and competition for their electric power (it varies by state). While on the one hand rates have dropped slightly, on the other hand service quality, such as the ability to recover after a bad storm, has declined. Some power companies in the new situation have drastically cut back on reserve (stand-by) crews and preventive tree-trimming for example. Other companies cut back on developing new generating sources (the California disaster a few years ago).
IMHO, we were better served by the old model of electricity regulation.
The issue is NOT "regulation is good or bad". The issue IS "finding the most effective kind of regulation. The U.S. generally did a good job regulating telephone service until about 1980, but a bad job regulating railroads and telegraph service. Telephone service flourished, but telegraph and railroads whithered.
IMHO, bad regulation of passenger rail service in the US resulted in a much faster decline in psgr trains than would've occured if they had smart regulation. Railroads were terribly heavilly taxed--to subsidize their highway and airway competition. Stupid and unfair. The railroads were forced to keep running lightly used and very costly branch line trains far longer than necessary. Again, stupid and unfair. Had regulation and tax policy been fair, light psgr trains would've been removed, but the heavy main line trunk trains--which still made some money--would've been kept on. But given the oppresive environment, railroads decided it was best to kill off all psgr runs as fast as possible even if it still made money.
I can't for outside the U.S. but one weakness of US regulation has been not keeping up standards and requirements up to date to reflect changing conditions. The regulators will insist upon maintaining an obsolete service that only a few use and is costly to provide "for the public interest". (Some states may still require party line service even though that is now technically obsolete and today a nusiance to provide.)
Another problem is that regulators will be very slow in authorizing a new service until they figure out what standards to apply. The Bell System had developed cellular service and was ready to try it out but the FCC sat on it for two years. I believe US television was ready to expand circa 1948 and again the FCC sat on that for several years.
There is always going to be a balance between keeping to old ways of doing things and then trying to change/remove those older things to make way for new opportunities.
Perhaps with all of these mandated & regulated technology items there needs to be a set sunset/review date built into them to ensure that appropriate reviews must take place (rather than be put off by vested interests etc)?
You can't leave things that utilise public resources in the hands of "the market", nor can you let out of date regulations hinder change that is judged to be of benefit to the vast majority - and that's where politics complicates matters!
The FCC realized, belatedly, just how much they had screwed it up and declared a moratorium so they could get it right before they allowed hundreds of new stations on the air. The Big Northeast Channel Shuffle was bad enough when they only had to shift a dozen stations around; it would have been much worse if they hadn't taken a breather from 1948 to 1952. Remember, the Commission had originally allocated channels 2, 4, 7, 9, and 11 in both New York City and Albany! (After the reorganization, Albany lost channels 2, 7, 9, and 11, and channel
4 moved to channel 6; Albany would later get 10 and 13, with the latter being the only one co-channel with a New York City station.)