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As utilities face a changing world in which they are operating and maintaining power-delivery systems at peak levels and facing ever tighter restrictions on capital budgets, smart technology solutions are needed to develop strategies which will maximize reliability at the lowest cost. Several market dynamics are causing utilities to review their current distribution and transmission cable system rehabilitation practices. These dynamics include rising costs such as fuel and raw materials, which are accelerated by increased demand from developing countries, assets operating beyond their projected life, an increase demand for electric power, and a limited cable manufacturing capacity. As these dynamics converge, the risk of a public backlash is real if alternative methods of dealing with these challenges are not adopted. This paper presents the economics of traditional approaches and compares them to a new strategic method based on a smart technology called defect specific condition assessment. This new approach is supported by a combination of traditional economic analysis and actual field data collected over the past decade. The analysis is a tool which can assist a utility in developing the optimum strategy which balances planned investment and desired system reliability improvement.