Strategic Underground Program

Dominion Energy Virginia’s Strategic Underground Program is a system-wide initiative to shorten restoration times following major storms by placing certain outage-prone overhead electrical distribution lines and equipment underground.

Identifying the Most Outage-Prone Lines

Using a data-driven process, we continually analyze the performance of tap lines over a 10-year period.  Those most prone to outages will be considered for placement to underground. Tap lines, the overhead wires that go into neighborhoods, typically sustain the most damage during storms and require the highest number of repairs.

As areas and neighborhoods are identified, a project team will begin a comprehensive outreach process to work cooperatively with property owners and neighborhood groups on a plan for undergrounding portions of the lines.  Dominion Energy will work very closely with property owners to obtain the rights necessary to perform the work. 

Benefits and Challenges

  • Undergrounding the overhead tap lines that historically see the most damage during major storms will benefit customers by reducing the frequency and duration of outages in the most damage-prone neighborhoods.
  • When crews don’t have to make as many repairs after a storm, the time it takes to restore power to all customers is significantly reduced.
  • A faster restoration after a storm means that life returns to normal more quickly for homes and businesses across the area, decreasing the economic impact that major storms can have.
  • However, undergrounding is not a cure-all for power outages.  During a major storm, large numbers of customers could still be affected because most underground electric service connects to overhead lines and equipment that are exposed to weather, trees, animals and vehicle accidents.
  • While outages may still occur, undergrounding the most outage-prone parts of the distribution system will increase reliability overall.