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The four methods proposed in the literature for the structural design of substation bus systems to withstand short circuit loads are compared in the case of a single, simple element of a substation. These comparisons show that the continuous, dynamic design method, which treats the distributed mass of each element, will provide more reliable designs than will the methods presently in use. They also suggest that this method will provide more economical alternatives for renovation of existing substations, where the cost penalty can be especially severe if the traditional static method is used. It is concluded that the development of the continuous dynamic method for use on a routine basis is warranted, in spite of its computational complexity.