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Undergrounding: Enhancing Service and Reliability for Alabama Power Customers

Alabama Power seeks to continuously improve service and reliability in communities across the state. We are now more connected than ever both at home and work, and these enhancements are increasingly important to better serve 1.5 million Alabama homes, schools, businesses and industries who depend on us.

We're committed to making smart investments for Alabama’s energy future to ensure we continue to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers. Undergrounding focuses on converting select existing overhead distribution lines to underground, thus upgrading our power grid’s infrastructure to decrease the number and length of power outages experienced by customers.

What does undergrounding mean?

Undergrounding involves the removal of overhead power distribution lines, transformers and the power line that runs from the pole to your home, and the replacement of them with underground lines. While power lines will be underground, some equipment will be placed above ground to facilitate the safe and reliable delivery of power to your home and neighborhood. 

What are the benefits of undergrounding?

Our top priority is keeping our customers’ lights on safely and affordably. Improvements to our system such as undergrounding enhance service and improve dependability for our customers.  

By placing lines underground, we're reducing exposure to trees, vehicles and severe weather that cause most power outages. In addition, by moving the most difficult-to-access and outage-prone line segments underground, our line crews can focus on other areas after major storms, thus reducing restoration time for all customers.  

Please note, while we expect a reduction in the number and length of power outages experienced by customers, outages cannot be eliminated entirely. 

How often do underground power lines need to be maintained?

Placing power lines underground requires minimal maintenance. Should a line be damaged or fail for any reason, Alabama Power is prepared to access and repair the line.  

Why aren’t all overhead power lines being converted underground?

Our goal is to convert underground power line segments most prone to vegetation or weather-related interference and/or those in more difficult-to-access areas. If a line segment within an area identified for undergrounding is easy to access and is not surrounded by vegetation, it may be best to leave that power line, transformer or pole in place in its overhead location. The program is currently projected to convert 50 miles of overhead lines in the next year. While this represents a relatively small portion of our more than 50,000-mile distribution system, the program targets the lines that provide the highest benefit from undergrounding.    

How will I be affected by construction?

Undergrounding construction work will occur primarily in the road right-of-way where the existing power lines, streets, sidewalks and portions of lawn or vegetation are located. In certain areas, engineers may need to acquire easements from landowners to provide enough space to construct, install and maintain the new equipment for this project. Individual customers will not be billed for this work. This is a voluntary process and landowners are not required to grant easements.  

Will customers be responsible for the cost of undergrounding work?

Individual customers will not be billed for this work, and monthly billing rates for power consumption are the same for overhead and underground lines. 

Where will the undergrounding work take place?

Alabama Power is using data analytics to identify the most impactful lines to convert to underground. Projects are currently underway in all six geographic divisions.   

How will I know when undergrounding construction will begin in my area?

Alabama Power is committed to regularly communicating with customers throughout the undergrounding process. Customers affected by undergrounding construction work will receive a notice of planned work via mail. Following this notice, engineers will evaluate each affected area in person.  

In certain areas, easements will need to be acquired from landowners to provide enough space to construct, install and maintain the new equipment. A representative of Alabama Power will reach out to the property owner directly to discuss an existing power line on or adjacent to your property. Please note, this is a voluntary process and landowners are not required to grant easements. 

How long will construction take?

Length of construction work will vary by area. Alabama Power is committed to regularly communicating customers throughout the undergrounding process. 

Will undergrounding construction affect my electric utility service?

Some customers may experience brief interruptions in service during construction. If a scheduled outage is required, Alabama Power will make every effort to ensure customers will be notified in advance.  

How will safety be ensured during the construction process?

At Alabama Power, Safety First is our number one value. Our crews will work to ensure that construction equipment is adequately secured and blocked from public access. Crews will use traffic control for pedestrians and vehicles, install work area signage, and place barriers in and around construction areas. We will also provide direct communications to alert individual customers at the beginning, during and the conclusion of a project near their home. 

Who can I contact with questions about undergrounding in my area?

For questions, email G2APCUNDERGROUNDING@southernco.com. 

Undergrounding