Costs to remove the FortisBC utility lines would fall to the entity, or entities, requesting the aesthetic improvement. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Costs to remove the FortisBC utility lines would fall to the entity, or entities, requesting the aesthetic improvement. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Overhead power lines; Here to stay on Trail riverfront?

Moving power lines under ground, a costly endeavour says FortisBC

Moving power lines below ground – like the unsightly ones strung near the Trail riverfront – is do-able, but expensive.

The Trail Times contacted FortisBC to ask how this process could begin and who would be on the hook to pay for it because, at this point in time, the improvement would be for aesthetics and not function.

“As an energy utility, we need to ensure safe and reliable service for our customers every day, and currently those utility poles are providing service to our electricity customers in Trail,” began Diana Sorace, from FortisBC’s corporate communications.

“Moving power poles underground can be a highly costly endeavor and FortisBC will work to do so if there is a request made by a customer, (such as) a developer, resident or the municipality.”

Sorace said FortisBC has not received a request to move those specific power poles.

“However, it is important to note that the cost to underground utilities would be borne by the entities making the request.”

Technology does exist to move overhead power lines underground, she continued.

“For instance, with the construction of the new (Riverfront) Centre and its unique design, we moved some of our existing infrastructure underground to accommodate the new construction.”

In the City of Rossland, the company moved some power poles underground when requested to do so, because of new construction projects.

“However, many of our power poles are running above ground, providing service to our customers in Rossland and other areas.”

FortisBC makes considerable investments and upgrades into the electrical grid while being mindful of the purpose and cost effectiveness of each project, Sorace said.

“As mentioned, moving utility poles underground would be something we would undertake if requested to do so by a customer. “