Natural disasters and accidents are the leading cause of electrical system outages and Customer Minutes of Interruption (CMI). These events represent a significant challenge for utilities. Damage from hurricanes, tornadoes, heatwaves, wildfires, wind and ice storms, and traffic accidents are difficult to track, and they negatively impact distribution system performance, which leads to decreased customer satisfaction.
Strategic undergrounding is a data-driven approach used to identify key overhead distribution feeders, equipment and communication lines that are candidates for proactive undergrounding. A strategic undergrounding program assists in identifying the lines that are most prone to outages and that should be considered for undergrounding to improve grid reliability and system resiliency.
Enhanced reliability, improved system resiliency and a positive customer experience are key to development of a strategic undergrounding program. This paper outlines the processes and critical steps needed in each stage of a successful undergrounding program to deliver a positive program outcome for all stakeholders.