‘Strategic Underground’ Throughout Fairfax County

Dominion Power is undergrounding wires.

During the frequent thunderstorms that are forecasted throughout the summer, flashlights and candles may have been the short-term answer in the past, but Dominion Energy has another option with a program they are offering called ”Strategic Underground,” so the lines won’t be exposed when lightning strikes and other mishaps.

“Strategic Underground is a system-wide initiative focusing on shortening outages following major storms,” said Dominion’s Heather Montville in their promotional video, where they moved to identify outage-prone lines. “Our goal for you is to provide minimal impact,” she said.

Dominion Energy Virginia’s Strategic Underground Program is an initiative to shorten power restoration times following major storms, they said. Dominion Energy accomplishes this by finding the most outage-prone overhead power lines and moving them underground for protection.

"Tree limbs falling on lines and weather are two of the greatest contributors to outages," Montville said.

Moving the most frequently damaged power lines underground benefits customers by making outages in those areas shorter and less frequent. When crews don’t have to make as many repairs after a storm, it takes much less time to restore power to all customers. Faster power restoration means that life returns to normal more quickly and decreases the economic impact on homes and businesses across the area.

Dominion uses a data-driven process to continually analyze the performance of tap lines over a 10-year period. Those most prone to outages will be considered for placement underground. Tap lines, the overhead wires that go into neighborhoods, typically sustain the most damage during storms and require the highest number of repairs.

As of the beginning of June, they have converted more than 1,700 miles of overhead taplines and removed close to 2,500 annual outage events. These projects have directly affected almost 42,000 customers, Dominion said.

As areas and neighborhoods are identified, a project team will begin a comprehensive outreach process to work cooperatively with property owners and neighborhood groups on a plan for undergrounding portions of the lines. Dominion Energy will work closely with property owners to obtain the rights necessary to perform the work, their project information stated.

Sen. Scott Surovell and others have pressed Fairfax County to include partial funding for undergrounding power along with the Embark Richmond Highway development plan.

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