I would like an objective and comprehensive study to determine if in the long run, undergrounding power lines is cost effective. If the payback period were let’s say 20 years, would this work? If this question were asked in 2016, probably not. However, with the benefit of hindsight of the last two years, this could be quite justifiable.
Expenses of not doing this to consider: the never-ending cost of sufficiently clearing power lines of vegetation; proper “maintenance” of above-ground infrastructure; repair and liability costs due to infrastructure age, vehicles hitting poles, storm damage, etc.; damage to property as a result of utility-caused fires; litigation expenses due to fires, etc.; and costs resulting from intentional power outages.
This does not even factor in the emotional costs which cannot be quantified and the blight on the landscape of overhead utilities.
— Joe Lieber, Sonoma