Calls to Bury Power Lines Following February 2013 Nor’easter Storm

RETA storm system feb 2013 nor'easter imageEastern Canada and Northeastern U.S.A. were hit with a powerful winter storm February 8-10 that included hurricane-force winds and dumped heavy snowfall (Wikipedia). A state of emergency was issued in numerous New England states. At least 18 deaths were attributed to the storm and up to a metre of snow fell on the most densely populated part of the region. Between 700,000 and 800,000 customers across 9 states and Atlantic Canada were without power at the height of the storm. Some customers were not scheduled to get their power back on until today.

Following this and several other recent major storms including Hurricane Sandy that have caused dramatic power outages to millions in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, politicians, residents and businesses are again asking why distribution and transmission lines aren’t buried to avoid these outages.  For example, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick called on Monday for a sweeping review of the cost to bury power lines (Energy Central). He said, “I am personally very interested in seeing a real analysis done on the cost to bury utilities underground…I have to believe that the cost of recovery, the disruption to personal and work lives over time and given the increased frequency of storms of this severity, it’s worth a review.”

RETA has reported on many power outages caused by overhead transmission and distribution lines, and the growing calls for these lines to be buried. As major storms continue to cost millions of dollars in electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure damages, related damages and lost productivity, growing numbers of people are becoming aware that when capital, maintenance and transmission loss costs are combined over the life of a line, underground lines are cheaper than overhead lines. Burying power lines not only reduces long-term maintenance costs associated with storm-caused power outages, but also eliminates the negative health, safety, environmental, visual, property value, tourism, agriculture, pipeline, and aircraft impacts of overhead lines.

~ by RETA on February 14, 2013.

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