Undergrounding: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Utility Underground District (UUD) Program?
The City of Alameda’s Underground Utility Program was established in 1984 to place overhead main lines and service lines, including telephone, electric, cable television and other telecommunications, underground in a trench. The purpose is not only to beautify the streets but also to improve and enhance the city’s electric system.
What is the revised UUD program?
The UUD program was revised in 2014 to address community concerns and to maximize the public benefit of the conversion.
What are the benefits?
- Improves the visual look of Alameda
- Enhances public safety by removing utility poles and undergrounding utility lines
- Reduces power outages caused by vehicular traffic accidents
- Reduces costs of tree trimming and utility pole replacement
- Reduces power outages caused by weather, animals, metallic balloons and kites Improves residential and commercial property values
- Improves electric system reliability and operational flexibility with installation of new equipment
What are the drawbacks of undergrounding?
- Higher costs to install or repair underground lines
- Longer times to repair underground lines
- Increased chance of damage due to dig-ins by those who do not follow proper procedures to identify the location of underground facilities before excavating.
Why was the UDD program revised?
In 2012, the Public Utilities Board recommended stopping work on UUD #31 and tasked AMP with revising the underground-ing process due to concerns voiced by residents and Board members. The City Council accepted that recommendation at a Council meeting on July 7, 2012. Specific concerns included:
- Conversion costs were too much of a burden on home and business owners and were even more a burden for businesses and renter-occupied homes since they were not qualified to receive any cost reimbursements.
- The criteria for prioritizing a district were not clearly defined.
- Public participation in the program was limited.
Did you use public input to redesign the program?
Yes. AMP collected public feedback during 2011 and 2012 and through two focus groups. In December 2013, AMP convened a focus group of city and community stakeholders to review, evaluate and revise the UUD district criteria and prioritization process and develop a recommendation for Public Utilities Board and City Council approval. The focus group developed a prioritized list of seven criteria, which AMP staff refined and developed objective metrics for that could used to score each of these criteria.
In May 2014, AMP convened a financial task force meeting with representatives from the city and community to discuss UUD financing alternatives and develop a funding recommendation for Public Utilities Board and City Council approval.