Buried Transmission Lines Would Benefit Economy and Environment
“Burying the high-voltage power lines on the Providence-East Providence waterfront” would “greatly benefit both the economy and the environment of Rhode Island for many years to come – in fact, for many decades and generations”. That’s what Patrick Lynch, who was Rhode Island’s Attorney General from 2003 to 2011, recently wrote in this Providence Journal article.
Lynch backed up his call for burying the ugly overhead lines by indicating that underground lines would: boost economic development on the waterfront, encourage tourism, raise property tax income for the cities, provide jobs, protect the lines from storms and floods, improve public health and safety, enhance waterfront public spaces, and supplant antiquated towers. He pointed out that other mid-size cities such as Chattanooga, Louisville and San Antonio have buried unsightly shoreline power lines and transformed industrial backwaters into marquee waterfront destinations.
Lynch indicated that National Grid’s latest estimate to bury these lines is “preposterous”. Based on RETA’s research, it is a well known fact that most transmission companies grossly overestimate the costs to bury high voltage transmission lines because they do not want to bury them for several reasons, including the profits they generate from overhead lines that require constant maintenance and repair (customers are charged for these costs plus added high administration charges). The fact is, when capital, maintenance and transmission loss costs are combined over the life of a line, underground lines can be less expensive than above-ground lines. And, when property devaluation, lost economic opportunities and added health costs associated with overhead lines are added in, buried lines are cheaper than overhead lines. In summary and based on information from experts, underground transmission lines are both technically and financially feasible.
RETA agrees with Patrick Lynch’s sound arguments for burying high voltage transmission lines, and encourages Governor Gina Raimondo and Mayor Jorge Elorza to prioritize the burying of these lines.