The benefits of underground power lines

February 22, 2011

BGE vice president Christopher Burton's recent letter about the challenges of installing power lines underground brought up some obvious objections raised by other power company executives based on cost ("There are drawbacks to underground power," Feb. 14). However none of them have mentioned the return on investment.

The number of overtime hours paid to repair crews and the expense of bringing in crews from out of the area would diminish considerably. I am sure that Mr. Burton has access to employee timesheets and information about how much has been paid out to those out-of-area crews.

Nobody can predict the future, but based upon history one could come up with some pretty good figures that might put a serious dent in the cost of moving power lines underground. That would negate the need to raise delivery rates much higher than they are now.

Placing power lines underground is not the end of all power problems, but it might eliminate a significant proportion of them. You would no longer have trees falling across power lines or windblown lines touching each other to cause shorts that result in power outages.

In this area, the frost does not go that deep compared to colder climates, so worries about cold snapping the lines are pretty much taken out of the equation. I imagine the technology is available that could indicate where open underground lines are; that would eliminate driving around looking for downed overhead lines. A simple data line could be run along with the power line; chances are that if a power line opened, the data line would as well. If we don't already have it, I am sure such technology could be quickly developed.

With the economy the way it is and interest rate so low, now is the time to expand.  BGE could employ many people to do the work and really stimulate the economy. While the initial outlay would be huge, the return on investment would be phenomenal. 

Darryl Jones, Pasadena

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