Evolving Telecom/Electric Realities

December 2012, Vol. 67 No. 12

As I write this column, it has been about two weeks since the presidential election. In conversations with many industry people, the topic is always what lies ahead for the next four years and can we still transition into a reasonably healthy business environment?

Contrary to what many believed, the re-election of President Obama has not caused the world to end (at least not yet). But no matter whom you supported or which way your political opinions lean, the election’s results have business people concerned – and rightly so. The administration’s domestic policies have, and potentially will, lead to higher taxes and, at least to some degree, a confining business environment.

That adds up to another four years of political turmoil. But with the well-documented financial cliff awaiting our country’s path, there will have to be some serious compromise and course-correction for us to avoid a European-type of financial melt-down. More on potential market impacts will be included in my January column.

Underground in the telecom & electric world
Going underground with electric transmission power lines has always been a dicey prospect at best. The heat generated by overhead transmission lines is so great that cables fail when in a confined, underground conduit. But here’s where I can get on board with the modern green movement. No one likes looking out their front window at the eyesore of electrical transmission polls, plus the danger of live, high-voltage electric cables directly overhead where they walk and their children play, at the mercy of Mother Nature or human accidents.

Going underground is the obvious yet historically limited and expensive solution. Modern science has been working on the problem for some time and is now experiencing success. A recent project to install more than 6,200 feet of electrical transmission lines in Orange Beach, AL, via horizontal direction drilling is a prime example. The use of intersect boring combined with advances in cable design and manufacturing, plastics for insulation and improvements in thermal grout made possible – and economically viable – a project that just a few years ago would have been considered too costly and impossible to build.

The experience of this project and an increasing number of others is steadily feeding further development and desire to place transmission lines underground. Read the story on page XX.