One of the country’s most inspiring and forward-looking municipal improvement projects took place in the Town of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where crews completed a 17-year project to put overhead power lines underground.
The effort results from a 2004 Town ordinance requiring the conversion of all overhead power lines to underground. The project was completed on August 31, 2021, with the removal of the final aboveground pole.
The project was designed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents and visitors, increase the reliability of electric service and boost the local economy by improving the aesthetics of an island that receives more than 2.3 million visitors annually.
The conversion process relied on a partnership between the Town and the utility company Palmetto Electric. The project is being paid for with a 3% monthly fee for the utility bills of the roughly 1800 commercial and 35,000 residential customers on the Island.
With this project, 3,574 poles and 1,238 overhead transformers were removed and 115 miles of overhead distribution lines were converted to underground at a cost of $34,777,000.
Special thanks to Marc L. Torin of the Community Development Department of Hilton Head Island for providing photos and background information for this report.