We’ve argued the point before, but it bears repeating: Eversource should bury the power lines. Delivering electricity over wires strung on poles above ground is 18th-century technology that invites power outages.
Power outages are annoying at best. One hundred years ago Falmouth residents complained when power was out for more than several days. We recalled that in our Once Upon A Time column not long ago. Today, though, losing power isn’t just annoying; it’s costly for businesses and can be outright dangerous for people who have medical conditions that depend on electric devices.
Some time ago an Eversource information person—it was NStar then—told us that burying the power lines was not feasible because of technical challenges. It might be that things have changed in that regard.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that PG&E Corp, the electric utility serving northern and central California, plans to spend $20 billion to bury 10,000 miles of power lines to reduce the risk of starting wildfires. The company had in the past said it was too expensive to bury the lines. The Journal quoted chief executive Patti Poppe, who said, “This is where we say it’s too expensive not to underground(sic). Lives are on the line.”
So power lines can be put underground, if there is the will.
Today there is more than inconvenience and disruption at stake. In order to reduce power outages, Eversource hires arborists to cut back trees under and around its power lines. This is not an aesthetic solution but, worse, it removes foliage that helps sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
A PG&E power line sparked a fire in 2018 that resulted in deaths and a year later the company pleaded guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter. That’s a powerful motivator that Eversource isn’t likely to face, so we don’t expect to see a move to bury power lines here any time soon.